By Richard Ammon
January 2, 2011
Some cheerful new this New Years week as reported in the New York Times today:
The new Gay-Straight Alliance Club in the conservative town of St. George, Utah, “is part of a drastic rise this past fall in the number of clubs statewide, reflecting new activism by gay and lesbian students, an organizing drive by a gay rights group and the intervention of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has threatened to sue districts that put up arbitrary hurdles.”
Last January, only 9 high schools in Utah had active Gay-Straight Alliances; by last month, the number had risen to 32.
“It was a turning point here and for the state, where administrators, teachers and even the Legislature have tried for years to block support groups for gay youths, calling them everything from inappropriate to immoral…”
(Photo right by Jim Wilson for the NY Times; ‘Love is Louder’ on a student’s hand.)
To read the arguments and tactics of opponents of these clubs is to see 1950’s-style tabloid exaggerations and nonsensical irrationality. Some call the clubs “satanic” or claim they are a “gay recruiting tool”.
State legislators tried to suppress them with laws forbidding any discussion of sexuality. (And conservatives fear socialism!?)
Ironically one of the useful defenses against such conservative repression is the federal Equal Access Act, a law passed by Congress in the 1980s, mainly to protect Bible study groups in schools. The law has become a prime tool for protecting Gay-Straight Alliances from arbitrary hurdles.
Not to be dissuaded in their homophobic efforts, conservative groups pushed back with the state-approved Student Clubs Act of 2007 aimed at the alliances that requires parental permission to join all school clubs and says they can be barred to “protect the physical, emotional, psychological or moral well-being of students and faculty.”
The greater irony in this statute is that it grossly ignores ever-present discrimination that occurs against the well-being of LGBT students and, indeed, subtly encourages the opposite of protecting the physical, emotional, psychological well-being of gay students.
The law itself is a blatant form of bullying and sends the message to other unthinking students and families that homosexually inclined people must be legislated against because their presence is somehow a threat to the superior morality of straight students.
Little do these God-fearing conservatives realize the depth of their irrational homophobia and the mean-spirited use of religious beliefs to desecrate the dignity and rights of LGBT students. In the process they are defiling their religion as well with behaviors and attitudes which their ‘Founder’ never intended.
Who are they really listening to: the Loving Saviour (“love thy neighbor”) or the Hateful Satanist (“do evil against others”).
From 32 Alliances let’s go for 64 in 2011.
Let there be Bible study clubs and Gay Straight Alliances.
It’s the right thing to do.