Not very long ago I posted an article about Tennessee passing a law to encourage kids in public schools to “openly question” scientific theory, ostensibly to promote rational discussion about issues in science that, in their minds, haven’t been resolved yet. The objections I and others raised were mainly about how silly something this was on its face, since scientific theories are interrogated every time new data is available, and that kids may not have the educational background to really know what the hell they’re talking about at that stage. Combine that with the fact that we’re talking about Tennessee, the sponsors of the bill were Republican, and it suddenly takes on the air of “teaching the controversy” all over again.
Now we have the state of Missouri, where Republicans Steve Cookson and Dwight Scharnhorst (and others) have sponsored a bill that “prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation in public school instruction, material, or extracurricular activity except in scientific instruction on human reproduction”.
Section A. Chapter 170, RSMo, is amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 170.370, to read as follows:
170.370. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school.
As with the evolution law in Tennessee, which was meant to muddy the waters with regard to what is considered science, why in the hell would anyone find it necessary to introduce something like this unless it were meant to simply silence people they don’t like? The teaching of homosexuality in health class is obviously important, but to criminalize it in every other aspect of public education is not only a violation of the First Amendment, it’s a blatant act of discrimination and marginalization against an entire group of American citizens.
Given the painfully simple wording of the bill, this means that any groups for LGBT awareness or solidarity is prohibited. As are the “safe spaces” where they could feel free to speak with members of the faculty. I take it any discussion of homosexuality as a result of student bullying is no longer allowed? What about teaching the recent historical moves to allow same-sex marriage in states like Vermont, Washington, and Massachusetts? Or shedding some light on the regular persecution of homosexuals over the course of human history, as well as their current treatment in places like Iran?
Nope. Doesn’t matter. Just like Tennessee, the hope is to acknowledge the existence of homosexuals just enough to cover some basic health class topics, and then shove them back in the closet where they belong.
Again, prove me wrong on this, and I’ll happily amend my post … but every single time there have been bills like this introduced into state legislature, it’s because some evangelical Christian whose tie is knotted too tightly and whose own sexual orientation may be in doubt feels the need to foist his or her morality on their entire constituency in a way that ends up doing far more harm than good. There is no rational, public health oriented reason for this, nor is it about money or budgetary concerns. This is about using a religion as an excuse to discriminate against people they don’t like, and feel good about it because they’re in charge.
And these are the same people who say atheists are harmful to society. I suppose if there are enough of us, we’ll eventually be able to get people who advertise their devotion to an all-powerful invisible gay-hating supernatural being OUT of their positions of power, which I guess would be harmful to them. I personally think society as a whole would be far better off.