In a move straight out of an Orwell novel, Tennessee state Senator Stacey Campfield’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill has advanced out of committee and will be sent to the Senate floor.
The bill would effectively criminalize teachers and school officials who talk about homosexuality before the ninth grade.
Conveying the message that being gay is neither appropriate nor suitable for public discussion, Campfield is attempting to further alienate and isolate a vulnerable population from seeking help and guidance from educators.
Supporters of the bill maintain age sensitivity is the primary goal, but Matthew Parsons, a socially conservative advocate and founder of the anti-gay “Something Better” campaign, may have spoken too soon. “If we’re talking about homosexuality, we are talking about specific acts that are going to be unhealthy for anybody to engage in outside of marriage.”
Let’s be clear. Campfield’s proposed bill has nothing to do with what is “age appropriate.” This is about fundamentally altering society. It would effectively prohibit speech and further push the civil rights struggle away from mainstream radar. Out of sight, out of mind.
“The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill raises all kinds of issues about anti-gay bias, free speech and government overreach,” said Tennessee Equality’s Ben Byers. “It means [teachers] can’t talk about gay issues or sexuality even with students who may be gay or have [a] gay family.”
Once again, we are witnessing a scared GOP attempting to limit debate and stifle meaningful conversation. The party of small government seems perfectly supportive of government’s large hand so long as it furthers their culturally radical agenda.
Senator Campfield’s cowardly attempts to institutionalize discrimination are painfully obvious for anyone with half a mind to see. If it’s a debate about substantive issues you wish to have, I welcome that debate. But leave the children out of it.
It’s GayMU at JMU! Hosted by Madison Equality, GayMU is a week of events advocating rights and promoting the LGBT community around campus, including musical performances, panel discussions, drag shows, and theatrical monologues.
Being that this Wednesday was declared ‘Gay Day’, t-shirts were handed out on campus which read, “Gay? Fine by me.” Students are encouraged to show their support for equality by wearing their t-shirts on Friday.
I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to attend an open-minded, liberal arts college such as James Madison University. To many, the prospect of an active and vocal LGBT campus life may be a fantasy. The accepting and safe environment on campus has been a source of encouragement and comfort to me, and it makes me proud to see so many step up and voice their support.
Last night, unrelated to GayMU but nonetheless raising charity for autism awareness, Queen of Mean Lisa Lampanelli appeared before a packed auditorium of students for a night of comedy. Lisa’s trademark brand of comedy is endlessly rude, vulgar, and if spoken in any other situation, undoubtedly offensive.Her racist, homophobic, and across-the-board offenses never fail to draw hysterical laughter, but they also beg a very different question: is there a space in our discourse that allows words like “faggot” to be excusable?
Having gathered a dedicated gay following, words like “faggot” — among others — are a focal point of her stand-up vocabulary, oftentimes being hurled at an audience member. And like any other minority group that Lampanelli lampoons, she thanks her audience at the end of her show for being good sports and is careful to remind them that these words come not from a place of hate, but from a place of love.
If meaning lies in people and not words, is it your approach rather than the word itself? If you give others permission to laugh, does that take away the sting and power we grant certain words?
Lampanelli told us last night that in her twenty one years of stand-up, she has never encountered a gay fan who was offended by her routine.
Should we be so quick to give comedians a free pass? Or should we be more skeptical?
Lampanelli has made a career of holding a mirror to the American public, magnifying and bringing attention to prejudices while inducing laughter and still drawing attention to the absurdities and horror of what true bigotry looks like.
I believe Lampanelli is keenly aware of what she is doing, and I believe her comedy is more than what meets the eye. You may disagree, and if so I wouldn’t argue.
Sometimes, it’s okay to laugh.