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In The Wake Of Gay-Teen Suicide, TN Legislature Considers Two Anti-LGBT Bills

The Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes next Tuesday, and it’s time for them to consider two bills, one old and one new, that deal with how homosexuality is treated in the public-school system. In the wake of the December suicide of Jacob Rogers (below) after relentless anti-gay bullying, this is a state we should be paying a lot of attention to.

The first measure is the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which passed the TN Senate this past May. Now it just needs the approval of the House and a signature from Republican governor Bill Haslam—two things that should be shamefully easy to procure.

The bill “prohibits the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades K-8,” essentially asking closeted kids to keep their sexuality to themselves until high school.

But limiting discussion in sex-ed and biology classes (not to mention English and history) strictly to heterosexuality isn’t enough for the Family Action Council of Tennessee!jacob_rogers

The second bill, as reported by WZTV FOX 17, is a new bill championed by FACT (yep, that’s the acronym) that would allow students to share their thoughts on the gays based on religious or political views. FACT  is even pushing this measure in spite of Jacob Rogers’ suicide, adding insult to injury by blaming his death on alcohol and drug abuse.

Living in the company of these anti-gay bigots would drive us to drink, too.

Here’s what the Nashville Scene, an alt-weekly, had to say about it:

Anti-gay conservatives are working overtime to explain away the suicide of young Jacob Rogers. They dismiss all the name-calling and bullying at his high school. Instead, they claim it was Jacob’s own fault somehow. In its latest radio report, David Fowler’s FACT concedes “it’s wrong to bully people because of their sexual practices” but blames Jacob’s death on his own alcohol and drug abuse and eating disorder. According to FACT, it’s all “the rotten fruit of the all-about-me individualist culture that comes when we deny the existence of God and his image in us.”… Blaming the victim is necessary to prevent Jacob’s death from damaging chances for passage of FACT’s 2012 state legislative priority—a bill to make it easier for young bigots to mistreat gay schoolkids.

The Tennessee Equality Project, the state’s main gay-rights group, calls the bill “a license to bully.” The group’s spokesperson, Chris Sanders, says, “This law would give encouragement to people…to express hatred.”

The bill’s Republican sponsors, Rep. Vance Dennis and Sen. Jim Tracy, still aren’t sure if they even want to take the bill to a vote. (E-mail Dennis and Tracy and tell them you don’t want it to go anywhere, either.)

If the law does make it anywhere—which it likely won’t, given the existing backlash—here’s hoping it backfires and allows high schools students who think being gay is a-okay the right to speak their political beliefs, too.

We pray they’d be loud enough to drown out the teens using religion as an excuse for bigotry.

By:           Evan Mulvihill
On:           Jan 4, 2012
Tagged: , , , , , ,
  • 11 Comments
    • Charles
      Charles

      Sounds like they are throw backs to the Scopes Monkey Trials in their rather limited intelligence. This as seen in the 1960 B & W movie, “Inherit the Wind”. The more fundamentalist the people, the dumber (and more dangerous) they are and vice versa. It’s not surprising that when Jesus dared stepped up to the proverbial plate and actually tell the fundamentalists of His time that they were WRONG that they turned around and crucified Him. In this the ideology of fundamentalism really suck.

      Jan 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MKe
      MKe

      And what could have caused his other issues? Bullying in school? Yeah because you don’t act out when every day of your life is hell because everyone at school treats you like a misfit that even God hates. Shocking that he acted out before his suicide.

      Jan 4, 2012 at 4:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David Ehrenstein
      David Ehrenstein

      I want a bill nationwide to outlaw religion.

      Jan 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MikeE
      MikeE

      @David Ehrenstein: No, a nation-wide law that prohibits ANY person from speaking publicly about religion unless they can demonstrate fluency in the ORIGINAL versions of both old and new testament texts, in their original languages.

      The problem with christofascists like these morons is that they don’t even realize they are basing their entire idea of “God’s word” on utter complete lies. NOWHERE in the Bible does God say anything about homosexuality. The word is not present. At all. Period.

      Regardless of whether you actually believe in the Bible as being a divinely-inspired text, the whole point is that they are MISREADING that text and making it say things that are not in it. The English translations of the Bible are abominations.

      Jan 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Isaac C
      Isaac C

      What happens in Tennessee, stays in Tennessee. The GLBT people should move out of that state and head elsewhere if they don’t like it.

      Jan 4, 2012 at 8:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jim Hlavac
      Jim Hlavac

      @Isaac C: Um, sir, since when is moving out of the state you live in an American value when a state makes miscreant laws? Your idea is repulsive to the American dream and the constitutional right to live where one chooses without being berated and outlawed by church and state in unconstitutional laws. Maybe all the blacks should have moved out of the South, and the Jews settled in a ghetto state, and perhaps all the Mormons only be Utah, and all the other Christians to leave that state — it’s bizarre when carried to your logical conclusion.

      But beware your words, for if all the gays move out of Tennessee, and other such states, and we take over a state or two, for perforce we will become the majority elsewhere, and perhaps then we shall outlaw heteros and then you can tell them to move to some other state. Or perhaps, after we take over say, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi — more than possible numerically, you can expel the Gay State from the Union. Montana, Wyoming and Maine, and a few other low population states are also up for grabs. Your idea is simply hogwash and brain dead — on the simple logical fallacy of “what happens…” and thus some leave — for obviously then, what happens > leaves. Egad, what a putz.

      Jan 4, 2012 at 8:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Evan Mulvihill
      Evan Mulvihill

      @Isaac C: I don’t think schoolchildren are going to uproot themselves from their families in TN anytime soon. We need to make gay teens’ lives livable even in shitty states.

      Jan 5, 2012 at 12:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Isaac C
      Isaac C

      @Jim Hlavac: I’m saying that it would be better if GLBT people left as a political protest, to make a statement. Obviously that will not happen, but I think it’s sad that people will live in a place like that and try to change people’s minds and the laws.

      Jan 5, 2012 at 1:44 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • B
      B

      Re No. 4 “a nation-wide law that prohibits ANY person from speaking publicly about religion unless they can demonstrate fluency in the ORIGINAL versions of both old and new testament texts, in their original languages.”

      You mean the Dali Llama cannot speak about Tibetan Buddhism without first learning Hebrew and Greek, and maybe some Latin as well? And what about Hindus, Druids, Wiccans, Native Americans, etc.?

      You might want to revise your suggestion.

      Jan 5, 2012 at 1:46 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kurt
      kurt

      Isaac, not everyone is so blessed as to have the funds to support moving to a different state whenever something goes wrong. Lower your ignorance blinders, please.

      Jan 5, 2012 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kimberly
      Kimberly

      I live in Tn and I am sickened by this. As if the public school systems here were not mussed up enough, now we are giving people the right to hide behind the asylum of political and religious views to demean and belittle others? I am sickened at the constant hypocrisy of so called Christian groups or family oriented organizations spilling forth all this crap! If indeed they are so religious and so God fearing, then why are they not practicing what they preach? Be like Jesus!? You must be mad! They are the furthest thing from that. I’m surprised their WWJD bracelets haven’t melted right off their arms. Jesus did not shun anyone. He walked and talked, even had dinner with alchoholics, whores, criminals and lepers, and I’m sure homosexuals. This didn’t mean he agreed with their life but rather showed that no matter what he was there for them, to help them know that they were loved by him and his father.
      What gives someone the right to call someone a fag, gay, homo because it isn’t in tune with what their religious believe is? Besides I thought that church and state were seperate? The last time I checked the schools were government funded institutions therefore religious beliefs should not even come into play there.
      I as a parent am angered to see this happen. I just pulled my son out of the public school system here because he was bullied, beat up on, laughed at, demeaned by the students all because he was “different”. He is 12 in the 6th grade. He isn’t one to dress different to draw attention to himself, he isnt gay, but the kids sure loved to throw that word at him. He has Aspergers which is a high functioning form of Autism. He is sensative, has a hard time fitting in socially with what considers themselves popular. He loves art and Legos, he loves comics and makes incredible Lego designs and stop motion animation movies. He dresses the same, looks the same as any other kid, but yet because he sticks out to them by being more innocent to things and doesnt carry himself in the way kids do now, they bullied him relentlessly. There was a kid who continuously called him gay and spread it to people that he was and it hurt him. Once the principal stepped in we figured he would back off since he would now be on the radar. We were wrong. Due to teachers turning a blind eye to what goes on around them and their own ignorance of not doing what is right to protect kids like my son, it continued, even turned violent at times. We pulled him out because we knew his safety was at risk. Two weeks later the same kid who had had no contact with my son whatsoever, sends him a computer message threatening to find him and beat his a@*, just because. And that my son’s father who is a police officer wont be able to do anything to stop it. We have filed a police report and notified the school to show them just why he was removed.
      I think it is horrid they are trying to blame this lid’s death on something other than the truth which was the relentless bulling he endured. Was my child at fault for being Autistic? Did he deserve how he was treated because of his disability? God forbid these people ever have a child with a disability or are gay. How would they treat them? I am in horror that the bully laws which are hardly acknowledged as it is now, are about to be altered to allow these people to bully and treat others as if they were inhuman and hide behind political views and religion. This will give these kids the right to call anyone a Fag, queer, etc and say that it was because they don’t agree with that child’s lifestyle or person because that is what they religiously believe. Even if the student is or isn’t, it can ruin their self worth, their self esteem, their trust, their life. It is wrong! Shame on these people! I hope that God is as forgiving as I think he is, for their sakes….

      Jan 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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