Tennessee's “Don’t Say Gay” Bill was created to change the way school is taught. It is also called “The Classroom Protection Act.” And now certain politicians are looking to amend it again. The Bill bars Tennessee teachers from discussing any facet of “non- heterosexual” sexuality. How is this going to change the classroom?
Of course, first we need to define “gay.” If a man was married to a woman, yet left many unpublished sonnets of love for a young man, we can throw that in. If a woman lived as a spinster her entire life, dedicating herself to a cause but lived with another woman; well, for a Tennessee lawmaker that’s a no-brainer. And if they are just out loud and proud ... step to the (far) left, please, with the others.
“Don’t Say Gay” means teachers cannot teach history in schools, because if teachers are not allowed to consider homosexuality they could not mention Alexander the Great, Oliver Baldwin, Richard the Lionhearted, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Caligula, Edward II, Pope Julius III, Julius Caesar, Marie Antoinette, Montezuma II, or Peter the Great.
According to the Department of Tennessee Standards of Education, “The foundation of the (Social Studies) curriculum standards includes ... communication, data analysis, historical awareness and acquiring information and six content standards: culture,economics, geography, government and civics, history and individuals, groups, and interactions” (source). However, social studies classes must be stopped because teachers will not be able to discuss the achievements of Harvey Milk, Barney Frank, Eleanor Roosevelt, Aristotle, Leonard da Vinci, and Sir Francis Bacon.
The schools are going to have to yank the music programs because of those people, like Joan Baez, Josephine Baker, Leonard Bernstein, Ma Rainey, Tchaikovsky, and Lesley Gore. And school music teachers will have to stop forcing students to warble, “America the Beautiful” because the woman who penned the song was (pssst) g.a.y. (Katharine Lee Bates).
House Bill 368 reads: “ Neither the state board of education, nor any public elementary or secondary school governing authority, director of schools, school system administrator, or any public elementary or secondary school principal or administrator shall prohibit any teacher in a public school system of this state from helping students understand,analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught.” But, as far as science, we must abolish science classes because we cannot say “gay” ... as in Alfred Kinsey, Esther Roper, Dr. Mark Schuster, Alan Turing, Margaret Mead, and Benjamin Banneker.
The Tennessee education system already teeters on a precarious ledge. “Only about 19 of 100 ninth-graders in the state eventually graduate from college within 150 percent of the required degree time...in fall 2010, 47 percent of freshmen at Tennessee public institutions required remedial or developmental work” (source). This means, basically, reading and writing. Kids, forget it! You can throw reading and writing out the window. If we can’t say “gay” we cannot discuss Rupert Brooke, Lord Byron, Truman Capote, Colette, Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolfe, T.E. Lawrence, Herman Melville, Edna Ferber, Walt Whitman, and William Shakespeare.
Lastly, schools will have to abolish the singing, playing, and even recordings over the P.A. of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Not because of Beyonce, but because the song’s author, Francis Scott Key, was a member of the first gay drinking club for Americans.
Thank God - oops, I mean, hooray - the theatre departments may still be intact.
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