Saturday, May 10, 2008

Man On Man? You're On The List!

So a high school principal in Tennessee outed two gay students by posting their names on a list of known romantic couples, allegedly in an attempt to deter PDA. Her story is that there was too much "explicit sexual activity" in the halls and she was keeping a list of all the known couples in the school to keep a special eye on. There are so many things wrong with this I barely know where to begin.

First off, how's about the ol' violation of privacy? I know, I know, they're still "children" and it's a high school and therefore they have no legal rights. They're minors so their parents deserve to know what they're up to, blah blah blah. Crap. They may technically be minors, but they are still human beings and within a few short years of legal adulthood. They are old enough to make their own decisions about their sexuality and romantic lives. They are CERTAINLY old enough to have their privacy respected.

There's also the fact that revealing couples could put those listed in danger. That's not just the gay couples, either. What about interracial couples with racist parents? What about a girl who's dating the "bad" guy that her parents would never approve of? Or what about something as seemingly trivial as dating across economic class or social circles? Any of those things could put the teens at risk of parental abuse and punishment or being ostracized by their peers. And, getting back to the same-sex couples, let's remember that this is Tennessee. Not to generalize, but the south isn't exactly a beacon of gay acceptance. Tennessee still sees an alarming number of hate crimes. As someone who has lived in the south and as someone who naturally seems to befriend gay men, I have seen and heard stories about narrow-minded families (like my friend who's brother told him he'd never see his niece and nephews again if he ever brought his boyfriend home) and various forms of harassment. So how is it logical for a principal to put students in danger of this kind of discrimination?

The ACLU has gotten involved on behalf of the outed teens after being contacted by one of the young men's mothers (who didn't know he was gay before but fortunately seems supportive and non-judgmental).

One other thought. High school relationships tend to not last very long. What good is this list if a month from now 80% of the couples will be broken up and new ones will have formed? Also, if you want to stop PDA, how about you just walk through the halls and stop it as you see it?

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