Bullied at school, fearful of how their families will react, and vilified by hateful political propaganda at a time in their lives when they feel lonely and desperate, some gay teenagers commit suicide. Sadly, it has been this way for a long time. But in the last year the media have finally taken notice. Important strides are being made by groups like The Trevor Project and It Gets Better, but suddenly members of the Missouri Republican state legislature want to slam on the brakes and stem the tide of progress for our own young people.
House Bill 2051, recently introduced by a group of Missouri Republicans (one who thinks it will cut down on the number of boys marrying goats), seeks to ban the use of language pertaining to sexual orientation in our schools. It’s a tactic used in other states and often referred to as ‘Don’t Say Gay’. If you read between the lines, the supporters of such bills aim to convince voters that they are protecting children from being recruited into ‘the homosexual lifestyle’. What they’re actually attempting is to outlaw the formation of gay-straight alliances at schools, places where young gay students and their allies can gather to support one another. The law would also have a disastrous effect on students, impeding their ability to receive potentially life-saving help from school faculty.
It’s shameful, it’s ugly and it’s wrong. Even worse, it’s a political ploy. Oh, look. There’s an upcoming election and the Republicans, who control the Missouri State House and Senate, have accomplished almost nothing. Now, before they go home and campaign, they seek to play upon irrational fears, unconcerned with who they might harm, just as long as they have an issue they believe will stir up their base and get them to the polls.
Call your state legislator and let him or her know that this type of fear mongering will not stand. And, on election day – vote! The strongest message you can send that we will not stand for this harmful and divisive politicking is to vote those who practice it out of office.
And make no mistake… if we stand together, we will stop this legislation. Most Missourians are fair-minded and will see this sorry ploy for what it truly is. But once the threat of this bill passes we cannot forget the vulnerable among us. Bullying has to stop. Young gay people need to feel safe at school and know that they can ask for help.
While we’re on the subject of language, has anyone had the heart to tell these Republicans what the abbreviation for Missouri means in certain circles that we’re not supposed to talk about any more? Please don’t or we’ll be in for another round of hateful, useless, time wasting legislation.