Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hiding from reality

I have never understood the inclination on the part of some folks to pretend that if you just don't talk about something it will go away.

This has been the approach of a lot of politicians vis-à-vis climate change (at least among those who actually acknowledge that it exists).  Let's not even talk about our role in wrecking the planet, nor (especially) what changes we'd have to make in our own cultures and lifestyles to have a prayer of a chance of altering what is now increasingly looking like the outcome.

Which is the adult equivalent of a little kid pulling his blanket over his head because that makes the monster go away.

The latest in the "la-la-la-la-la-la, not listening" department are the states wherein teachers are not allowed to discuss homosexuality in public school classes.  There are currently eight states that have such laws: Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.  The general attitude seems to be that if kids don't hear about homosexuality, it'll stop happening, as if there are 100% straight kids sitting around in high school health class one day, and the teacher mentions homosexuality, and all of a sudden the kids go, "Holy shit!  I never thought of that!  I think I'll go have sex with a member of my own gender right now!"

Some states go even farther than that. Take, for example, Alabama State Code § 16-40A-2(c)(8):
Classes must emphasize, in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.
And South Carolina State Code Statute § 59-32-30(5):
[T]he program of instruction provided for in this section may not include a discussion of alternate sexual lifestyles from heterosexual relationships including, but not limited to, homosexual relationships except in the context of instruction concerning sexually transmitted diseases.
And Arizona AZ Revised Statute § 15-716(c):
[N]o district shall include in its course of study instruction which…(1) promotes a homosexual life-style…(2) portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style…(3) suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.
So yet another way that LGBT kids are systematically marginalized and stigmatized. Is it any wonder the suicide rate among LGBT teens is so high?

In Utah, however, we may be seeing the first sign of a sea change.  Last week, Equality Utah sued the state over its so-called "No Promo Homo" law.  Troy Williams, president of Equality Utah, said that the law "sends a message that our lives are something shameful, something that must be censored and erased... the time has come to end the stigma."  The lawsuit itself states that such laws "create a culture of silence and nonacceptance of LGBT students and teachers... They  leave LGBT students at risk for isolation, harassment and long-term negative impacts on their health and well-being."

Which is it exactly.  It also, of course, is a fine example of ideologues pretending that if they only close their eyes tight enough, everything they don't like in the world will vanish.  The evidence is incontrovertible at this point that homosexuality is not a choice -- it is either inborn or else wired in so early that it may as well be.  (You straight readers, when did you decide to be attracted to members of the opposite sex?  And if you say, "Well, I didn't decide to, it just happened that way," why in the hell do you think it would be different for homosexuals or bisexuals?)

So what this amounts to is institutional discrimination against people for something over which they have absolutely no control.  Explain to me again how this is fair?

[image courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons]

Most appalling of all is the fact that the majority of the people of this stripe justify their beliefs using religion.  Isn't there also something in the bible about "judge not lest ye be judged" and "love thy neighbor as thyself" and "do unto others as you would have them do unto you?"  I seem to remember those were pretty important parts.

In any case, it's heartening that people in Utah may be taking the first steps toward repealing these idiotic laws.  It can only be hoped that this will spread to other states that have similar statutes.  And that the supporters of such legislation are forced to take their hands from over their eyes and look squarely at reality -- not only that LGBT individuals exist, but what the years of bigotry, intolerance, bullying, and systemic marginalization has done to them.

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