Thursday, 1 March 2012

Gay Identity

'The David Pakman Show' discusses the issues surrounding the anti-gay legislation which was proposed in Tennessee in 2011. The 'Don't Teach Gay' bill, if passed, would mean that public and elementary schools would be unable to teach children about homosexuality in any form, instead only heterosexuality would be taught. This bill was proposed by state senator Stacey Campfield, who was unwilling to respond to the request to talk on the radio show. Gay people in America are unable to experience freedom from discrimination if those in high authoritative positions, such as Campfield, discriminate against them, because laws can be passed which will effect the gay community.

The talk show presenter Lewis questions, 'What is the logic here, if they' (the children) 'don't know about it they won't become gay?' Campfield seems to hold this view, however it is extremely unlikely that the lack of education on homosexuality will prevent people from experiences feelings of homosexuality, because it is a natural occurrence, rather than a choice a person makes. However, if the law is passed, the youth of Tennessee will be unable to express their true identity, in fear of being different and also in fear of discrimination, or possibly worse.

The law would force those within schools, such as teachers and principles, to hold the same views as Campfield on homosexuality. Therefore, youths experiencing feelings of homosexuality would 'literally have no-one to discuss it with.' The prejudice against gay people would increase and the support for gay people would decrease.Pakman states that there is scientific evidence to prove that 'early detections of the signs of depression can help prevent suicides.' If even psychiatrists are forced to limit their role within schools by not being able to discuss homosexuality, these youths would become isolated from society, as they attempt to discover their identity without any assistance. This seems incomprehensible, seeing as teachers are supposed to educate children as well as support them. In addition, school is not simply about learning, as it also involves learning about oneself and developing one's identity.

Pakman attempts to understand the purpose behind the proposal, by questioning if the bill would create 'a more moral environment, a more Christian environment?' The bill clearly shows Campfield's strong Republican views, because his aim may be to allow the Bible to be more closely followed amongst the youth. For example, God teaches Moses, 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.' Leviticus 18:22. The conflict between homosexuality and religion is still evident in contemporary USA today, because the country is still largely religious. Therefore, it could be argued that if an American is gay, they are disobeying the Bible and consequently disobeying the word of God. This would make them immoral and as a result, their true identity should be hidden from society as they provide an unhealthy example to others.

The legislation 'does bring up issues of free speech,' because teachers would be controlled, when instead they should be allowed freedom to a certain extent in what they can teach. But moreover, the youths themselves will be unable to discuss homosexuality, even though freedom of speech is a right within the Constitution. The absence of homosexuality within schools would hinder education instead of improving it, because gays exist within America therefore youths need to be taught about their presence. This law implies that gay people are unworthy of being discussed, but in reality, gays are able to become successful and exercise intelligence just like anyone else. For example, 'would a school library be failing to comply with the law if there was a book on the shelf where a character is gay?' The work of gay people should be used within schools because it offers a broader insight into the world we live in. Children should not be taught to view the world from a narrow-minded perspective. If America is truly the land of freedom and democracy, gay identity should be recognised rather than ignored.

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