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  WINDY CITY TIMES

VIEWS Tennessee "Don't Say Gay" legislation will have grave consequences for GLBT youth
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Victor Salvo, Founder and Executive Director of the Legacy Project
2011-05-25

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CHICAGO — The recent passage of SB 632 by the Tennessee State Senate, banning any academic discussion of gay people in their schools, is a reckless act that sends a chill down the spine of every reasonable, free-thinking, fair-minded American. And those who are tax-paying parents of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender ( GLBT ) children are doubly outraged. As it is, GLBT youth are forced to grow up without historically significant role models because the numerous contributions of their ancestors have already been removed from every textbook. When one considers that, for the average person, their only awareness of history comes from what they can recall of their high school education, it is no small wonder GLBT people have remained so easy to marginalize and hate. Such unchallenged public ignorance forces sexual minorities to exist in a void, without historic relevance, subject to the political and cultural biases in our society, vulnerable to the violence such ignorance can incite. The sense of isolation this imposes on our children is immeasurable, and SB 632 makes a difficult situation worse by closing off the only possible avenue for GLBT kids — for all children — to learn about the many ways GLBT people have helped to shape the world we share. It is from this environment that bullying flourishes; it is from this fear that the minds of GLBT youth drift toward suicide; it is from this mentality that this hateful piece of legislation has come about. The people of Tennessee are right to be ashamed and outraged by this latest waste of tax-payer money being spent to shore up a political strategy that will ultimately be defeated by its own excesses.

Even though the Tennessee House version of the bill ( HB 600 ) failed to advance out of committee, it was on a technicality only; it is but a matter of time before this legislation heads to Gov. Haslam's desk — a portent of similar measures passed by other states where these bills will not serve as genuine education measures, but as political tools to advance an extremely radical agenda whose first victim will be the Freedom of Speech in America's classrooms. We call upon Gov. Haslam to find the wisdom and political courage to veto SB 632/HB 600 when it is finally presented to him — or be prepared for the tragedies that will result when bigots, with the "mandate" of the state legislature, are emboldened to act out against courageous teachers and the innocent GLBT children they will try to protect… children who, if they survive this latest assault on their lives, will, in a very short period of time, become full-grown voting-age adults who will never forget those who made such a dangerous piece of legislation possible.

The Legacy Project is committed to creating memorials to honor Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender historic figures, beginning with the dedication of "The Legacy Walk" in Chicago.

To learn more call 312-608-1198 or visit www.legacyprojectchicago.org


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