DAVID ROSMAN: Teaching ignorance of LGBT community would be harmful to Missouri

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | 10:52 a.m. CDT; updated 8:56 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"2012 HB 2051 -- Public School Curriculum

"Section A. Chapter 170, RSMo, is (to be) amended by adding thereto one new section, to be known as section 170.370, to read as follows:

"170.370. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no instruction, material, or extracurricular activity sponsored by a public school that discusses sexual orientation other than in scientific instruction concerning human reproduction shall be provided in any public school."

I live by a very silly rule. I admit it is silly, but it works for me. If I cannot pronounce or spell the name of a disease, I cannot get it. I believe that this is a great rule. However, if I were a legislator and made this a proposed law, what would happen?

I can argue that I have not been sick, other than with a basic cold, a bit of high blood pressure and clinical depression — and a couple of hernias — since I made this rule. I have a rough time spelling schizophrenia (a big thanks to the inventor of spell check here), and I have not been diagnosed as having this illness. Nor pneumonia.

If I did propose such a law, I would be 1) laughed out of the legislature, and 2) looking for a new job at the end of my term.

Yet, our Republican legislators in both chambers think if we just do not speak or teach about sexual orientation, other than in pure scientific terms, it will not exist. And this should be made the law of the land. Really?

Some factoids: School boards have ordered that abstinence be the only sex education program in their schools, but has teen pregnancy been significantly reduced? The Nancy Reagan mantra was "Just Say No (to Drugs)," but has it reduced teen drug use? The emperor tells us that his new clothes are made of the finest materials, but does it mean he is not naked?

Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not chosen or taught. It is not an elective lifestyle or illness that can be cured by medicine or faith. It is real and more accepted within the United States culture and morals today than ever before.

This does not mean that you have to accept the idea of homosexuality or be forced to have homosexual or transgender friends. However, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens make up a significant portion of our population, though undercounted in the U.S. census.

The 2010 census shows about a one-half increase in same-sex couple households since 2000. This does not include households that have someone who identifies as bisexual or transsexual as a member of the "couple." Nor does it indicate all of the gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the population.

The Urban Institute estimates that because the census is only a snapshot of our population, "the most significant omission is of single gay men and lesbians since, survey data show, only about a quarter of gay men and two-fifths of lesbians are in couples at any given time."

I can say with certainty that most of my GOP and Christian friends have a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender member of their family, have one or more as friends, work with more than a few (directly or as clients) and recognize the LGBT community as a viable market.

So I ask: Are our legislators doing the future residents of Missouri any favors when they tell K-12 public schools that teaching the existence of the LGBT community is prohibited?

Will preventing our children from discussing the gay and lesbian communities in the relative safety of our public schools reduce the bullying and violence against their fellow students who might be lesbian, gay or bisexual?

Will the absence of knowledge stop outright discrimination based on sexual orientation?

The only answer to these questions is an emphatic "No." I believe it will have the opposite effect and a worldwide recognition that Missouri is a state that is intolerant of its residents.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation must stop and stop today, and it is up to you to stop this insanity. Let your state legislators know that HB 2051 must never pass. Or they might be out of a job.

David Rosman is an editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics.

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David Rosman April 25, 2012 | 10:59 a.m.

Other news reports and commentary concerning Missouri’s HB 2051, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. From Progressive Missouri:
Star: Vile 'don't say gay' bill has high-profile sponsors ♦ Post Dispatch: Editorial: Anti-gay legislation nothing but bullying from House GOP ♦ KSHB: 'OK to Say Gay' fights back against MO bill ♦ KOLR10: Proposed "Don't Say Gay" Bill Sparks Discussions at Missouri Schools ♦ KOMU: Bill Prohibits Discussion of Sexual Orientation in Schools ♦ Missourinet: Educators don’t like ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill ♦ Berger's Beat: Government Interference? ♦ ThinkProgress: Missouri Don’t Say Gay Bill Sponsor: ‘There Is No Need To Talk About Billy Wanting To Marry A Goat’ ♦ News-Leader: Bill would bar talk of sexual orientation in Missouri classrooms ♦ Beacon: Bill to curtail sexual-orientation discussion in schools won't get a hearing ♦ Associated Press: Mo. bill backed by GOP House leaders would limit school instruction on sexual orientation ♦ KMOX: Controversial “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Debated In MO House ♦ News Horizon: Mo. House bill would limit classroom discussion of sexual orientation ♦ Turner: Project launched to combat sexual orientation bill ♦ Fired Up!: Missouri's Bigot Caucus is Doubling Down on Bullying

(Report Comment)
Sandra Hayes April 25, 2012 | 12:00 p.m.

What exactly are the teachers supposed to be teaching ? How old are students going to be ? What training are the teachers going to recieve so they can explain what transgendered is ? Teaching about sexual orientation does not belong in the school system at all. You can teach tolerance of all people but thats about as far a I want my kids teacher going.

(Report Comment)
Rachel Brekhus April 25, 2012 | 12:51 p.m.

The biggest part of the problem is the "extracurricular activity" piece. It essentially outlaws Gay-Straight Alliance groups, for one thing. But it would also ban, for instance, inviting a speaker to one of Hickman High School's "Speak Your Mind" forums, if that person is an MU professor whose main area of academic study has to do with sexuality/sexual identity. Simply introducing that person and naming their area of research would be forbidden. Not to speak of Hickman students (again, the people who decide the topics of these forums) hosting a "Speak Your Mind" forum that included any sort of conversation that even includes a peripheral mention of gay people, bisexuality, sexual orientation, etc.. For that matter, a student-led Bible study group meeting at a school would not be able to discuss the Bible's treatment of homosexuality.

Within the curriculum, the law would prohibit mention of the Gay Rights movement in the context of the other rights movements (Civil Rights, women's rights, etc.) in social studies classes, and it would prohibit discussions of literary and/or historical figures that talks about biographical background touching on their sexual orientation. A teacher could discuss an artist's or political figure's marriage but not about his/her same-sex relationships.

(Report Comment)
Renee Field April 25, 2012 | 9:10 p.m.

Teaching tolerance of all people might require saying gay. Just like it might require saying Christian, Muslim, mentally ill, homeless, Black, Asian, left handed, and lots of other words that describe real people living in society. Personally I would want my child to have an accurate view of the world he will have to go be a part of. Johnny will have gay friends. He might even be gay. Are you going to make him wait until he's an adult to navigate the diversity that is our world?
Not saying gay won't make it go away. It will just perpetuate ignorance and intolerance. Does it seem like as the rest of the country moves ahead on this issue, Missouri going backward? Maybe soon we can outlaw interracial marriage again...segregate the water fountains...return to the days of illegal back alley abortions...

David, your common sense is refreshing.

(Report Comment)

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