Our last post discussed the recent news that the Boy Scouts are moving toward accepting gay members.
This week, the New York Times had another story about the increasing acceptance of non-heterosexual, non-cisgendered people in environments with a long history of intolerance.
This time, it’s rural Kentucky. The article describes a recent meeting of the City Commission in Vicco, a town of 335:
“The Commission approved the minutes from its December meeting, hired a local construction company to repair the run-down sewer plant and tinkered with the wording for the local curfew. Oh, and it voted to ban discrimination against anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity — making Vicco the smallest municipality in Kentucky, and possibly the country, to enact such an ordinance.”
The entire article is inspiring, and the story seems screenplay-ready. The mayor, who happens to be gay, “hired the city’s first police officer in years”—an old high school buddy who helped shield him from bullying growing up. That police officer told the Times, “We have five drug dealers here, and everyone knows it. I’ll ask ’em nicely to stop, and then I’ll put ’em in jail.”
Elsewhere in Appalachia, though, the news is discouraging. A bill before the Tennessee legislature known as “Don’t Say Gay” has evolved into a more destructive form. Prior versions of the bill prohibited grade school teachers from discussing homosexuality with students. The new one “includes a provision requiring teachers or counselors to inform the parents of some students who identify themselves as LGBT,” ThinkProgress reports.
While the old version of the proposed law was already extremely objectionable, it could be construed as (misguided, homophobic) squeamishness about sexuality. But the new version of “Don’t Say Gay” makes clear the outright prejudice behind the measure. Put aside for a moment the challenges inherent to *any* conversation between schools and families about kids and sex. Treating homosexuality as a danger requiring intervention is not only bigoted: it’s dangerous for the children.
As ThinkProgress points out, “Family rejection is a serious risk for LGBT youth. Kids who are LGBT often face alienation, if not outright abandonment, because they come out. Forty percent of homeless youth are LGBT.” (Emphasis added.)
Better education is needed—not just in schools but in statehouses.
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