Does Anti-Bullying Have A Prayer In Alabama?

Alabama’s first openly lesbian legislator Patricia Todd recently pre-filed anti-bullying legislation explicitly prohibiting harassment of LGBT students—and it has more popular support than you might expect from the heart of Dixie.

A recent survey commissioned by Equality Alabama showed that nearly 70 percent of Alabamians support LGBT student protections and 50 percent support employment, housing and public accommodations protections for LGBT citizens overall.

The state’s Department of Education has already instated a model anti-harassment policy for school districts, but the policy excludes LGBT students. While some Alabama cities offer LGBT student protections, Todd believes the recent rash of LGBT bullycides have shown her fellow legislators the importance of explicitly offering protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

“If we don’t specify that, they won’t discuss it when they’re doing their training,” Too said. “They’ll talk about race or national origin, but they may be uncomfortable discussing sexual orientation.”

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  • the crustybastard

    I drove through Alabama once. That was enough.

    I fared better than the guys from Top Gear. The cast and crew were assaulted, stoned and chased by Alabama’s intelligentsia after they painted each other’s cars with slogans like, “NASCAR sucks,” “Country & Western is Rubbish,” “Hilary for President,” “Man Love Rules OK,” and “I’m Bi”

    The challenge was to get the other guy shot or arrested. I don’t think they reckoned that was a real possibility.

    “Are y’all gay looking to see how long it takes to get beat up in a hick town?” inquired the proprietress of the gas station. Then she called up “the boys.”

  • Michael

    Backwoods inbred hicks too bad there are not more like Patricia in Alabama it would be better off.Instead they have the family fucking inbred backwoods hicks who hate gays blacks etc…. The question is what DON’T these people hate? Morons.

  • DavyJones

    @Michael & the crustybastard: There are alot of good people in Alabama, and when ignorant people such as yourselves paint the whole state (and indeed the whole South) with a wide brush; you do great harm to the cause in general. People don’t like to be called ‘backwoods inbred hicks’ and once you do that, you more or less lose any chance of ever convincing them to listen to you on any topic.

    One of the biggest challenges to being a southern liberal, is keeping the ‘Liberal Elitists’ from shooting all of us in the foot.

  • Mike

    @Michael: We interviewed Patricia Todd for the Deep South’s regional GLBT magazine last year and titled the piece “How Aware is Alabama of its GLBT Population?” I’d like to think that for as much as there is bigotry there, there also tends to be little to no awareness, and that many minds tend to change when they meet people like Ms. Todd, or really any gay person who flies in the face of what they’re taught in church.

    It’s definitely not for a lack of GLBT population in Alabama, but I’ve noticed that they tend to group in big or even mid-sized cities (I never thought I’d see the day where Dothan, AL, home of deaf/anti-gay Miss America Heather Whitestone, could actually support TWO gay bars). I just hope people in the more rural areas can open their minds. I’m not so sure it will happen though.

  • the crustybastard


    Hey dipshit, I cited my PERSONAL experience and then showed video footage of guys being attacked in Alabama because they were PERCEIVED to be gay.

    In no way at all is that “painting the entire South with a broad brush.”

    Spare me the sanctimony, nimrod.

  • Michael


    Uhh I never made a blanket statement about the entire state of Alabama so my apologies if it looked that way.I know not all of them are bad my comment I admit was out of anger and frustration tired and sick of people trying to hold us down afraid of us afraid we are gonna affect them their marriages etc…Im just tired of it so my apologies if I did make a blanket statement it was not my intention.My comment was referring to the kinds of people CrustyBastard was referring to .I know its important for all of us to not make a biased and unfair judgement against an entire state just because there are some bigots among the decent folk. I have however heard that Alabama is not gay friendly not that much that is.It is is after all one of those red states I hear so much about.They seem to be for the most part stuck in the past in an archaic way of thinking and treating others.Not ALL of them and not ALL of Alabama but some of them most definitely fit that description.

  • Michael


    In all honesty you should be confronting the people CrustyBastard referred to they are the problem not us.People like them would commit acts of violence against someone who is gay and would not give a second thought to it.People like that have no values no conscience no morals and no decency to put it bluntly they do not give a shit period.

  • Mike

    I call shenanigans on that Top Gear shit anyway. I’ve actually lived in Alabama, and “mama getting her boys” is such a fake Dukes of Hazzard bullshit thing I can’t even believe people would just buy that wholesale.

  • Mav

    @Mike: I live in Alabama now, have my entire life, and in a word: ditto. I call bullshit.

    I’m not going to say that I haven’t experienced anti-LGBT harassment in Alabama (I have, in a few isolated incidents) but surprisingly enough, a lot of conservatives in the South are REAL conservatives…that is, they believe that everyone has a right to their own personal affairs, and while they don’t necessarily back government intervention to protect gays, they don’t support people harassing them either because they don’t abide rudeness. “Bless your heart” or “I’ll pray for you” are probably the most derogatory things you’ll hear out of most strangers if you’re open about your sexuality with them. The liberals here – few and far between as they are – are as supportive of gay rights as they are in any other part of the country.

    Violent bigots are definitely in the minority though. Most people in Alabama are courteous and generous by nature, and we’re not nearly as stupid as folks would like to think we are (thanks, mainstream media stereotypes!).

    Where I’m from (Huntsville) you can’t sling a dead cat without hitting a PhD. It’s also the birthplace of the American space program and is currently one of the most elite secret weapons research and development centers on the planet.

    But the general consensus? As I’ve heard it put: “He may have a touch of lavender, but he ain’t hurtin’ anybody.”

  • Mike

    @Mav: ““Bless your heart” or “I’ll pray for you” are probably the most derogatory things you’ll hear out of most strangers if you’re open about your sexuality with them.”

    LOLOL. “Bless your heart” = The Southern “fuck you.” I love it. <3

  • Mav

    Where I work, my office is full of guys just like this: There are probably more rocket scientists per capita in my hometown than any other city in the world. And yes, some of them do talk like this.

    Contrary to popular belief, most of the people here don’t give a fart in a twister whether you’re gay or not. I can’t speak for the holy rollers or the high school dropouts, but everyone else is pretty laid back.

    I’m openly gay at my job. I don’t go around announcing it or anything, but it’s pretty damned obvious since I’m perceived as a butch lesbian – I wear my hair like a man, my manners are overly masculine, and I wear men’s clothing exclusively – and nobody has ever said a thing to me about it in the 3+ years I’ve been working there. I’m everybody’s best friend and the spearhead of my department. I’m the WORST KIND of queer according to bigots (the “flaunting” sort) and *still* nobody cares.

    I doubt I would have gotten to my current position of prosperity if Alabama was anywhere as prejudiced as people tend to think based on the asinine stereotypes they see on comedy television.

  • Mav


    And I will say that I’ve run into two separate incidents of bigotry in Alabama – one in which I was refused service at an auto shop in Arab, Alabama (which is about a stone’s throw from the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan) because I was a woman dressed as a man, and another incident in Huntsville proper where a car-full of stupid teenagers followed me briefly, whooping and screaming obscenities.

    Neither incident scarred me for life or anything, and in neither case did I feel threatened, just annoyed.

  • Josh

    Ok look one there are many issues facing Alabama in regards to lgbt protection legislation,BUT the outright ignorance of a few is not helping the cause in any regard. Have any of you lived in AL , visited , anything other than paint us all with the same they must be redneck because they have an accent? If not you have no clue what the fuck you are saying I’m from here been out for years and yes there are a number of things in need of fixing but right not the biggest problem is perception. The perception that while it may be slower in going to get the culture to change. Not everyone has the chance or opportunity to grow up in a microcosmic area with a higher density. Too many forget that while the rest of the country has had in some small ways changed at least alittle, we have been fighting harder than most because change is not something that always comes easier. I’ve lived in the pacific northwest and Chicago and traveled the country so not everyone is backwards as is so often portrayed instead of disrespecting a section of the nation and the people that you have absolutely shown no interest in getting to know. Stop and realize that being a dick about it helps nothing, except to purpetuate a stereotype. If I’m not mistaken aren’t we all everywhere trying to do just the same in all ways.

  • Mav

    Oh yeah, one thing I forgot to mention – I come out to my supervisor at work during annual evaluations and suggested that they change their corporate anti-harassment policies to include sexual orientation/gender expression, and also that they add benefits (spousal, insurance, and otherwise) for same-sex couples, to put me and my queer coworkers on equal ground with our heterosexual colleagues.

    And you know what? They did.

    So even in Alabama, sometimes just speaking up and making yourself visible is all it takes.

  • Mav


  • Pep, Italy

    Mav and DavyJones thank you for sharing your experiences!

  • CampusQueer

    We have our share of embarrassments in Alabama, but point out anywhere else in the nation or world where you can’t find the same. Patricia Todd didn’t get into office alone. Votes from her constituency gave her the office to bring change for the LGBT community in Alabama.

    Hate is hate is hate. Yes, we do have people who are white who openly hate black people. We also have black people who hate white people. If one sin is as equal as the next, isn’t hate the same way? Before you start pointing your finger at us looking for flaws, look in your own backyard. Hate and violence are everywhere. Saying such negative, stereotypical things about Alabama or anyone puts you on the level of the people you say you oppose. In order for this country to ever get close to equality, we are going to have to understand that we must find a commonality with the people across the fence rather than just try to build it higher.

  • Michael


    I agree and I for one apologize for my comment about Alabama.It’s indeed unfair to paint an entire State with the same brush based on stereotypes rumors other peoples stories of what they experienced when they went to Alabama what we see on tv and our own perceptions about Alabama.Granted though there are ignorant people in every state and that part unfortunately does make sense in that specific area at least.Not all of them but some of them just like all the other states in this country.

  • CampusQueer

    @Michael: I appreciate it Michael. Now is the time for me to admit I am looking for any and every way out of this state once I graduate from UA.

  • Michael


    *sighs* I understand trust me I live in SC they have never really been that gay friendly much less progressive.I am referring to Anderson S.C. small town not that big one of those towns that seems constantly stuck in the past.The barber shop I used to go to was owned by my neighbor Jimmy he used to always say nigger this nigger that and our nigger president stuff like that suffice it to say I was always cringing when he said stuff like this.Thats how narrowminded my town is sadly.

  • Parson Thwackum

    And again the concern trolls come out to explain why Christian conservatives aren’t so bad. Everyone in Alabama just believes in letting you live your own life without interference…that’s why gay marriage is legal there, there’s no drug laws, and it’s easy to get an abortion, right?

  • Mav

    \@Parson Thwackum: Parson – Because gay marriage is legal in liberal states like California, right?

    Oh wait, no it’s not.

  • Mike

    @Parson Thwackum: I don’t think anyone said life was peaches and cream in Alabama for GLBT people. But GLBT people are likewise not being firebombed and we don’t have acid chucked at our faces like some people seem to think. In quite a large part of the state, you can live more or less openly and you don’t have a day-to-day fear of “is someone going to beat me up or kill me?” The same cannot be said for many areas just one state over in Mississippi. “The South” is not a monolith and gay people do live here, and proudly, and many without a constant fear.

  • Mike

    BTW, I am writing this in a public area in the state of Arkansas, where I have not been firebombed or lynched or acid-attacked once today, or ever.

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