Some of my readers may be interested in this article from the Advocate - "Task Force on Gay Youth Suicide."
On December 13, California state Senator Mark Leno introduced the "Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act" (FAIR) to add the contributions of gay people to the history curriculum in California, hoping that such visibility will serve to reduce gay teen bullying and gay teen suicide.
Not surprisingly, Faux News disagrees with the bill. On December 17, Fox and Friends interviewed Fox contributor, Tucker Carlson, who is evidently an expert on gay teen suicide.
Tucker had some very unusual objections to the bill.
"There are two problems with this.[FAIR] One, it's propaganda and two, it's blackmail. The point of history is to teach what happened. Not what you wanted to happen. Not what you hope will happen but what actually happened."
This is in fact not true The bill doesn't suggest that lies about the contributions of gay people be published, only that the truth about their contributions be included in the history curriculum. The fact that the March on Washington was organized by a gay man, Bayard Rustin, for example, is a fact, not propaganda. Propaganda would be writing that Bayard Rustin, a gay man, organized the March on Washington, and hence gay people are superior to straight people, because, after all, no straight person ever thought of a march for civil rights. See the difference, Tucker? Well, maybe you don't, but smart people do.
Not getting his stupidity quota in for a 2 minute interview, Tucker continued:
"In this case, a lawmaker is saying, portray a special -- an interest group in a positive light or kids will be hurt. Hence the blackmail. They are basically saying if you don't do this, kids could die. And that's an outrageous thing to say."
This is incorrect. No one is saying "do this, or gay kids will die." What people are saying is that gay teens ARE dieing, so lets do this! That's a fundamental difference.
Then Tucker launched into his philosophy of history, something he obviously spent a lot of time developing:
"What I -- what they're saying is the point of history is to raise the self-esteem of students. It's to find yourself in the history book and see the group to which you belong portrayed in a positive light. And again, of course, that's not the point of history. The point of history is to teach you what happened....It's the -- that's exactly right. It's not to make people feel good about themselves. It's not to achieve social aims. It's to tell the truth about what went before. And that's being subverted by a lawmaker and it's dangerous."
Subverted??? Wow, subversives in the California Senate? We better resurrect Joseph McCarthy! Wait, we don't need McCarthy. We have Tucker!
But what Tucker fails to mention is that FAIR simply adds the contributions of gay people to an already existing list of minority contributions. For some reason, Tucker didn't advocate eliminating the contributions of other minority groups from the history curriculum. He only advocated keeping gays from being added to it. If history is not about teaching contributions, then why are the contributions of other minorities ok to keep in? But gay contributions are not?
I'm actually not necessarily disagreeing with Tucker's philosophy of history. He is right that the point of history is to teach what happened. But what happened is that gay people have been oppressed, persecuted, harassed, tortured, excluded, and murdered for thousands of years by straight people. It is also a fact that some very brave people have tried to end heterosexual bigotry. And those facts are not in the history books. If it's the point of history to learn what happened, lets put the facts in the history books. And to suggest that putting in facts is somehow inconsistent with making gay teens feel better about themselves is factually incorrect. Including the fact that Bernard Rustin was gay makes gay people feel better. So, the truth has been told, and gay teens feel better. Who could possibly object to that?
Tucker continues by stating that it won't work, because his extensive knowledge of the studies done on this subject reveal that telling the truth about gay contributions to history won't help them at all.
"Well, I mean, not only is it -- first of all, it's unproven. There isn't social science that demonstrates that teaching children about the glories of the gay rights movement will reduce bullying. That just doesn't -- we don't know that."
Actually according to The California Safe Schools Coalition, as pointed out in Media Matters, surveys of California students and school administrators on 3 different years revealed:
"Students who report learning about LGBT issues in school... report fewer mean rumors or lies spread about them, fewer reports of being made fun of because of their looks or the way they talk, and less LGBT bullying at school." The California Safe Schools Coalition also concluded that not only did more LGBT students feel safer at schools with LGBT issues in the curriculum, but "[m]ore straight students report feeling safe if they learned about LGBT issues."
So, if by "There isn't social science that demonstrates that teaching children about the glories of the gay rights movement will reduce bullying," he actually means, "There IS," then finally Tucker has said something factually accurate. There is a first time for everything.
Just wanted to say Happy Birthday to the son of god, born of a virgin on December 25, and who later died and was resurrected, to save humanity from sin! I am of course talking about Mithras! Who, you ask? Sorry, most of you know Christmas as the birthday of Jesus. But actually, it was the birthday of Mithras, who existed thousands of years before Jesus. Mithras was a pagan god in Persia who made his way to Rome, becoming, for awhile, its dominant religion. Somehow the Jesus story got mixed in with the Mithras legends. Constantine especially seemed to enjoy synthesizing as a many religions as possible to keep everyone happy, so perhaps he was the culprit. In either sense, every December 25, when you celebrate the birth of Jesus, you are actually violating the First Commandment: "Thou shalt not have any gods before me." I hate to be the one to tell you that you're going to hell on Christmas, but alas, I thought you should know. Perhaps this clip on the subject with help soften the blow with some very typically British humor: Christianity And Mithras.
Well, it's official! As of Wednesday, with Barack Obama's high profile signing of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, gay people have the right to be cannon fodder, to defend a country that hates them. If that sounds bitter, it's not. The right to be cannon fodder really is a step up for gay people. Granted it's not marriage equality or anything like that. I mean, let's get real. As gay people, we are good enough to die - but let's not get radical or anything, right Mr. President?
Thankfully there was in fact still one person left in the media to challenge the President's hypocrisy. ABC's Jake Tapper asked the President: “Is it intellectually consistent to say that gays and Lesbians should be able to fight and die for this country, but they should not be able to marry the people they love?”
The answer to that question, of course, is "No, it's not intellectually consistent."
But since President Obama is smarter than most of us, he had a different answer. His response was basically that he's still thinking about it. That's been his response for several years now. I'm not sure what he has to think about still. He says he has gay friends after all.
"I have friends, I have people who are working for me who are in powerful long lasting gay and lesbian unions. They are extraordinary people, and it is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about."
For some reason, this sounded to me a lot like the response of a white racist when called out for his racism. "But, but, some of my best friends of black!"
But still, at least, President Obama is thinking about it. And he did offer some hope to gays and lesbians in this news conference. "My feelings are constantly evolving," he acknowledged.
Of course, he's been saying that for years now too, but after all, evolution is a very slow process, as any biologist will tell you. So perhaps, a couple million years from now, we'll be ready for radical things like "equality before the law." What amendment was that again? That would be the one that gave corporations the rights of personhood. Maybe one day it will apply to actual people as well.
While I'm thankful for Jake Tapper's question, I'd like to see someone in the media ask the President what the hold up is with his thinking processes. Why is it taking him so many years to think? We'd expect Bush to take a long time to think. But what is President Obama still thinking about while I wait for my rights and gay kids keep killing themselves?
Oh well, Obama is a patient man. He has his wife and gay friends to keep him company while he evolves. That will be of comfort for the gays and lesbians that will be fighting and dieing for the ideals this country was founded upon.
Let me leave the President with one thought, which might help him evolve a bit faster. Look into the Supreme Court case, "Loving vs. Virginia." That's the case back in 1967 that banned the ban on interracial marriages. Previously, many states had outlawed such marriages.
Mr. President, aren't you a product of an interracial marriage?
Thankfully, few object to interracial marriages today. We have evolved on that issue, although, I know some people are probably still thinking about it.
Maybe I'll leave the President with an additional thought. "Justice delayed is Justice denied." Perhaps a reporter should ask the President what he thinks about that quote? I'm waiting.
For those of you who didn't catch the Lifetime movie, Prayers for Bobby, when it first aired last year, it has finally arrived on DVD. For those who don't know about the film, it is the true-life story of Bobby Griffith, (played brilliantly by Ryan Kelley) a young gay teen whose right-wing Christian mother's (Sigourney Weaver) refusal to accept his sexual orientation led him to commit suicide. This began a slow transformation in Mrs. Griffith as she failed to find answers in the Bible that adequately gave meaning to that suicide. She emerged as a gay rights activist. What's so sad about the story is that Bobby Griffith took his life back in 1983. Coming out of a string of high profile gay teen suicides in 2010, I have to wonder, when will things change? If you've seen this film, let's hear your thoughts.
Jay Jordan Hawke is the host of On the Edge and author of the awarding winning Two-Spirit Chronicles, which includes: Pukawiss the Outcast, A Scout is Brave, and Onwaachige the Dreamer.