Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tennessee and Burnaby (hey that rhymes!)

Let me start with Tennessee.

The middle of May 2011 has not been kind to teachers in Tennessee. Or to gay people. I can't imagine being both at the same time. The Tennessee Senate has passed a law that will prevent teachers from discussing homosexuality with their students. This is being called the 'Don't Say Gay!" law (what a deceptively exciting title!).

Instead, any discussion of sexuality will be limited to natural-health sexual-reproduction.

Which, aside from being a reality that no longer exists, is essentially the sexual education that I was provided with and that has completely failed to prepare myself or many of my peers for sexual health as gay or lesbian men and women. And I have made it clear in the past that I feel this is a moral oversight.

Previously, it was a curricular concern - and teachers mostly choosing not to deviate from the guidelines of the curriculum. Soon (as early as 2012 - when the bill will be taken up by the House) it will be illegal to deviate from this curriculum and talk about homosexuality in a sexual health course. Or at all.

Because my numerous memories about being properly instructed about having sex with men made me want to have sex with men. Just like my numerous memories of being instructed on how to insert my penis into a vagina made me want to do that.

Wait a minute.

This is an example of a law that has been written by a government that is directed by belief rather than proof. Constitutions should be adopted where proof is recognized as the only viable means by which a law can be produced, non?

And, on a personal note, in having gone through this re-examination of my own existence, I was aware of my attraction to men well before completing middle school. Was I confused by it? Hell yes! Would I have approached a teacher and asked questions about it? Hell no! But only because the language did not exist for me to do so.

Burnaby next time. It angers me more - but only because I can relate to it more.

And honestly, the result of this law in Tennessee is likely going to be beneficial. The backlash that will result, whenever it happens (and it may not be for twenty years), will force homosexual sex curriculum into the sexual curriculum of young peoples - a place that it has never held before. And, the reality is that homosexuality as a topic may be discussed in a middle or elementary school, but it isn't examined. Students can't comprehend sexuality at that age - they are just learning it. And teachers don't want to teach about homosexuality - it is a topic so few are familiar with, and a topic that they do not want to field questions about.

So, ultimately, this law is not going to change how education is practiced in the state of Tennessee. It will just formalize how it cannot be (and has not been) practiced, solidifying the curriculum in the early 90s until the state is forced by society to catch up to other parts of the states.

Once again, that could be twenty years from now - and there will be many lives hurt and lost in the interim - but the end result will be very, very beneficial for gay education in public schooling.