Don’t Say You’re Gay


Most of you are probably familiar with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill from Stacey Campfield, state senator in Tennessee. The last time we heard about it, it was innocuously attempting to prohibit faculty from discussing homosexuality with students. This time, it’s *also* requiring faculty to report to a parent if a student expresses that they might be queer in some form.

The “Classroom Protection Act” doesn’t explicitly say that teachers have to tell on students for coming out. What it actually says is:

(c) LEA policies and procedures adopted pursuant to this section shall not prohibit: [snip]
(2) A school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal from counseling a student who is engaging in, or who may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person; provided, that wherever possible such counseling shall be done in consultation with the student’s parents or legal guardians. Parents or legal guardians of students who receive such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such counseling has occurred;

It sounds reasonable enough straight from the proposed legislation. After all, doctors are allowed to break confidentiality if they suspect that their patient is a potential risk to themselves or others. This looks like a good thing at first glance.

What isn’t included in this section is Campfield’s wisdom that homosexual behaviour is harmful. “I can’t speak from personal experience, but being homosexual in and of itself is not deadly or dangerous. The act of homosexuality is very dangerous,” he said. Everyone indignantly wonders what possible reasoning he has to back up this claim and we all collectively roll our eyes as he cites HIV statistics as related to gay sex. No other evidence, apparently. (Also, what are they feeding those kids there? I doubt there are many K-8th graders having anal sex elsewhere.)

There are pretty legitimate reasons why being openly homosexual is dangerous, but the most prevalent of them comes from people like Campfield and not from having icky butt sex. I have to wonder: What would he do if one of his kids’ teachers called and told him that child was gay? His kids are probably 8-9 years old; it’s not unheard of for youngsters to express affectionate interest at that age. How would this guy react to hearing that one of his perfect angels has been tainted by the evil librul Satanist homosexual agenda?

If you think the answer is anything other than “He will accept that child for who they are and subsequently treat them exactly the same as before unless that was bad to begin with,” then there’s probably reasonable cause to be concerned for the well-being of that kid. If the parents this man was elected by share his views, these kids could be facing ostracism, attempted exorcism, abuse, they could be kicked out (maybe the older ones) or shipped off to a boarding school.

So many things could go wrong, here. Students’ safety might be at risk. A personality trait is being labelled as intrinsically harmful. Young people’s trust is being violated and they’re being outed without their permission.

Did Campfield think, even for one second, about the possible repercussions the students might face? He claims that he wants to protect them, but it doesn’t seem like he’s taking them into consideration at all.

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  1. You know, I grew up in a fundamentalist christian home with fairly horrible parents. And I’m a trans guy but my parents didn’t know this when I was with them (even though I knew from a young age) because that wasn’t something that even occurred to people like them in the 1980s and 1990s; I think they thought I was probably a lesbian, which is really ironic considering I’m not sexually or romantically attracted to women at all. I didn’t tell any teachers or psychologists or anyone else because I KNEW that there was no way anyone would help me and it might get back to my parents and then nightmarish things would happen.

    A lot of bad things happened to me anyway, but at least I wasn’t subjected to therapy designed to make me “accept” my “real gender” or whatever.

    I suspect that the person advancing this bill knows full well what he’s signing kids up for when those kids have parents like mine. I suspect he thinks it’s for their own good.

    It makes me want to barf, really.

    • Ugh, I really like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’d *love* to believe that this guy isn’t actively trying to harm people, I’d love to think that his intentions of protecting kids from harm are genuine and that he’s just misguided about what “harm” means… The reality is probably much closer to what you suggested.

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