WARNING: Potentially controversial topic to follow. I do not usually post on things like this, but I think this is a really important issue.
Ok, world, I realize that homosexuality is still a challenging topic for us to deal with; that it is sometimes quite taboo and controversial, but do you really think not talking about it is the right path? Not talking about something, otherwise known as attempting to avoid it, will not make it disappear. On the contrary, it will usually make it worse.
In case you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, the bill SB0049, proposed in Tennessee by State Senator Campfield on Wednesday, April 13 to their education committee, would require that “no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.“ This essentially means that it is ok to discuss sexuality as long as it is within the heterosexual norm, i.e. sexual identities which favor men who like women and women who like men.
While I respect that sexuality education, especially for younger children, is a touchy subject – no pun intended – completely avoiding the discussion of sexualities other than heterosexual is not only problematic in its blatant discrimination and homophobia, but it is also a lie; ignoring the existence of gay people or people who are not “straight” does a disservice to society as it is lying by omission. This bill is trying to claim that by not talking about homosexuality, it will disappear. Answer me this question: what happens when you ignore your monthly bills? Do they disappear?
In addition to these issues, the bill would present a severe problem for school social workers and psychologists who would then be unable to assist the students who are dealing with issues related to sexual identity. While personal sexual identity is probably more of an issue in middle school aged children rather than at the elementary school level, elementary school students may come from alternative family lifestyles which might include homosexual parents, a gay sibling, or aunt, uncle, cousin, or whatever, and they may need to discuss it with someone at school.
Finally, what would a school official do when a student asked a question about homosexuality, or if there was some act of discrimination, violence or bullying related to this topic? If the teacher wanted to try to resolve the issue by presenting information about it or facilitate a discussion about the incident, it would not be possible. What would happen to the teacher or school official that tried to do that?
Even if you think that homosexuality is an abomination or a sin or whatever, I hope that you can acknowledge that it exists and understand the importance of being able to discuss it in a school setting.