Monday, April 25, 2011

Shh! There are gays in Tennessee!

Tennessee is passing a law that has a LOT of people (and a LOT of Rioters) up in arms. It's being called the 'Don't Say Gay' Bill, and it will supposedly stop educators from mentioning homosexuality in schools before the ninth grade. But, as usual, there is a little bit more to this story than what is being spun in the media - especially the online blogosphere.

The first myth seems to be that - like most outlandish bills - Tennessee has made this a law. A lot of folks are freaking out as though this has passed both the State Senate & House and has become law for that state's education system. It has NOT. All that has happened is that one committee in the Senate (of which there can be dozens of committees) has green-lit the bill. It has not even been read, seen, or heard by the greater Senate.

Again, I repeat, this has not passed. It hasn't even been seen by the Senate.

The second myth seems to be that this "Don't Say Gay" bill, should it become law, would ban discussion of homosexuality entirely. That's not exactly true, either. Homosexuality could still be discussed in pertinent, educational situations from grades 9-12. (That's ages 13/14-18)

Now that we have the myths out of the way, I'd like to discuss, briefly, what's wrong with legislation like this.

Firstly, the bill only bars discussion of homosexuality during sex-ed courses. If you have a young gay or lesbian child, or a child whose parent(s) is/are gay or lesbian, then that kid cannot get answers to their sex-ed questions, despite whether they are legitimately asking. However, it does allow discussion of heterosexuality, and seems to be promoting it by dint of the exclusion of other lifestyles. Stacey Campfield, the progenitor of this legislation, feels that this allows parents to decide when the appropriate time to discuss sexuality with their kids is...except in instances involving a penis and a vagina... In THOSE cases teachers can let the kiddies know all there is to know.

This is Stacey Campfield. I tend not to make judgments based on looks, but doesn't he just scream CLOSET CASE? Especially after promoting not only this bill, but he has attempted to issue death certificates for aborted fetuses, force women to view an ultrasound before using their right to an abortion, and eliminating pre-K education programs. Oh yeah, and he tried to join the Black Caucus. This arch-conservative is #1 on my "Expect to see in a 'wide-stance' situation in an airport in the very near future" list.

Allowing for education on one topic while purposefully excluding all other viewpoints is confirmation bias. It promotes the idea that you are trying to exalt, while ignoring any and all opposing or different data. It's a fallacy in the education world and has no business in education. Either ban sex ed all together, or allow open, honest discussion of all topics.

Secondly, if you recall my series on sex education reform on the show, researchers vary on the average age for a person's first sexual encounter. HOWEVER, that age range is between 9 and 12. Most settle somewhere around 11. Most kids are about 14 in their Freshman year of high school, which is that magical grade 9 when children are apparently all of a sudden capable of hearing about gay folks doing it without turning gay themselves (???). At best, this legislation would be keeping needed sex education out of the hands of gay and lesbian teenagers a full three years after they, statistically, need it. At worst, they are taking it out of their hands an average of 5 years after their first sexual encounter.

As a quick side note: I have always loved trying to figure out how legislators decide what the "magic age" is for kids to learn or do certain things. Like, what difference happens to a kid between 17 years and 364 days and 18 years that allows him the mental faculties to vote or begin sucking down cancer sticks smoking cigarettes? Why can they see violence and nudity in movies at 13, but not 12? What makes the age of 10 the magic age for being able to charge kids with crimes, but a 9 year old that decides to kill his little sister gets off scot free? It's just a lovely conundrum, don't you agree?

Education should never be limited. We know, from research, that most parents have no desire for the school system to teach their kids about sex. We also know, from research, that most parents also don't teach their kids about sex. So...then...who is supposed to teach them? The internet? Other kids at school? Instinct and first-hand experience? Ahh yes. Twitter.

What do YOU think about this issue? What do you think about sex ed in general? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

3 comments:

  1. I totally had him pegged as a closet case the minute I saw his face, too.

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  2. LOL, I have no opinion on Mr. Campfield because my gaydar sucks.

    But I do have kids and I came to a couple of different conclusions: 1.) There's no way in hell I want them learning from their friends because most kids and even many teens have some seriously screwed up ideas, especially when it comes to contraception 2.) I didn't want them to grow up as freaked out as I was about the whole thing (my parents are very devout Catholics who seemed to freak at the very idea of me just knowing anything, let alone thinking or heaven forbid, wanting). So I put my big girl panties on and made a vow that they would be old enough to know when they were old enough to ask the question on their own.

    LOL, that came with interesting results. I was shocked when my then 5 year old son asked some pointed questions after watching an episode of Magic School Bus. So I told him, but for awhile he was sure I was making it up as a joke (at 11 he knows better). My daughter asked around the same age when my sister in law got pregnant. I told her, but she seems to have blanked out the actual "how to" (which my son notes with a certain wry amusement) and fixated on the idea that Mommy and Daddy just need to alone time to make sure the sperm gets to it's destination

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  3. In a perfect world, I'd make sex ed classes more of a "How To" then the current "Don't Ever" situation. I still fondly remember a brief moment in senior year sex ed where a kid asked where the G-spot was, and the teacher looked both ways, closed the door, and very, very quickly with a laser pointer said, "Here. But the spot you want to pay attention to is...here. Never tell anyone I told you this." Then he went back to the lesson.

    Really, though, 99.99% of kids will someday find themselves wondering, "Am I doing this right?" Some basic guidelines would really help!

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