Arizona House Passes Bigot Protection Act
March 18th, 2008
Anti-gays are not always staggeringly stupid. For example, they are capable of understanding that “Proud to Be Irish” is not really comparable to “The Irish are Scum”. They can get that a T-Shirt bearing a Star of David and the phrase “Shalom” is not offensive to anyone while “Jews are Jesus-Killers” really has no place in public schools.
But for some reason, they just can’t understand the difference between a T-Shirt with a supportive gay theme and one that condemns and attacks gays. For some reason they confuse pro-Christianity with anti-gay and think that it is appropriate to wear T-Shirts with the language “Homosexuality Is Shameful, Romans 1:27” and “Be Ashamed” and “Our School Embraced What God Has Condemned.”
Well now the legislature in Arizona has lept to their defense.
The House approved legislation Monday designed to ensure students expressing their religious beliefs are treated the same as those taking more secular positions.
Now those unfamiliar with the efforts of anti-gays to instill formal homophobia into the classroom may not recognize the reasons for this effort. They may think this is about the Bible Club or about anti-religious bigotry.
If I were ignorant, they might have my sympathies. As someone who was once mocked by a fifth grade teacher in front of class for closing my eyes and saying a silent prayer over my lunch, I know that schools can sometimes be tough on religious kids. And if you doubt that, try being the only boy in gym class in knee-length shorts.
But that’s not what this is about. And in case we have any uncertainty, the bill’s author, Rep. Doug Clark, R-Anthem, clarified.
Similarly, Clark said if students are allowed to wear T-shirts about their sexual orientation, then other students should be permitted to have their own shirts which express a religious viewpoint about such activities.
Yup. This bill is designed specifically to promote “a religious viewpoint” about “such activities”. I wasn’t the only one to notice this.
Rep. David Schapira, D-Tempe, said he fears the bill would give license to some students to bully or harass others, such as those who might wear T-shirts demeaning homosexual students, which he described as “harassing.”
Clark said schools would remain free to enact and enforce anti-discrimination policies.
“Most in the religious community are going to be level-headed and not be abusive of the rights that are established in the Constitution,” Clark said.
Well now, Rep. Clark, that just isn’t true. If there were no efforts to harass gay students, you wouldn’t need a bill that allows just such action. But somehow I think you already know that.
However, Rep. Clark – and those who are proclaiming a mighty victory in God’s name – let me give you a little warning. You’ve done this before and it didn’t quite work out the way you planned.
You passed a federal law, the Equal Access Act, that was intended to protect students who wanted to have Bible Study on campus. And now that is the law that protects Gay-Straight Alliances. To your surprise, shock, and dismay, you found that teen-agers didn’t much want to spend lunch time discussing the lamentations of Jeremiah but that gay kids did want to get together and work towards defending themselves from abuse.
In your rush to impose your faith on others, you forget that those who disagree with you will also get the same right to impose their faith right back.
So rush out and print your anti-gay T-Shirts just in time for the Day of Silence. You can use “Jesus Can Make You Happy, Not Gay” or even “God Condemns Homosexuality” if you like, knowing that their “religious” message is protected.
But if you stop and think you’ll realize that at this moment there’s some enterprising kid trying to decide whether “I Reject Your Fascist Religion” or “Real Christians Don’t Hate” will sell more T-Shirts before class. For every kid that is so devout that he wants to wear a message of hostility and condemnation of gays, there are many more who will mock you and your faith. When you open up the schools to “religious viewpoints” about “activities”, you aren’t going to like the results.
I figure gay boys could just wear the religious T-Shirt above and watch you and the other anti-gays work yourselves into a tizzy.