Monday, February 4, 2013

Humpty Meets Dumpty. Again.

Having a particular interest in special education (gee, I wonder why), I subscribe to a couple of Education newsletters. They're both US-based, of course, but something is better than nothing, says I.

So it was that today I came across a synopsis in Education Week stating that a Tennessee Senator wants to pass a law requiring counselors and other school officials who learn that a student has engaged in homosexual activity to report this information to the parents. Thinking that this sounded interesting in a warped sort of way (and admitting that the thought that some right-wing politician strikes again did cross my mind), I clicked on the story.

The only thing is that (in my reading, at least) the story doesn't quite work as advertised - what the synopsis and article purport to say and what the proposed Bill actually says simply do. not. mesh.

The proposed Bill, you see, would provide that
  1. classroom instruction, course materials and other informational resources that are "inconsistent with natural human reproduction" will be classified as" inappropriate" for students from pre-K - Gr 8;
  2. any counseling by a school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal of a student who is "engaging in, or who may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious" to their or another's "physical or mental health and wellbeing" must be done, if possible, in consultation with the student's parents and the parents must be notified that such counseling has occurred; and
  3. the parents must be notified of a student "whose circumstances present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality".
And that, right there, is the problem, you see. Or, at least, the problem I see.

Because, for me at least, a requirement that the parents be notified in the case of a student whose "circumstances present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality" is very different from requiring notification in the case of homosexual activity. This despite the fact that it would appear that the good Senator, himself, might believe otherwise.

Admitting that, if perhaps you are a total homophobic, you might consider any and all homosexual activity to present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality, might I suggest that just because you say it or think it does not make it so?

Don't get me wrong, I am not making a comment on the "rightness", "wrongness" or "morality" of homosexuality; what I am saying is I find it very hard (read: impossible) to make the stretch that would equate homosexuality with "urgent safety issues".

The Senator, apparently, considers homosexuality to constitute an urgent safety issue because of the possibility of contracting HIV and AIDS. Putting aside the rather awkward fact that you can also contract HIV through heterosexual contact, doesn't any form of sexual activity open you up to the possibility of contracting various sexually-transmitted diseases (some of them pretty nasty, by the way)?

And, by the by, doesn't heterosexuality by a female open her up to the possibility of pregnancy, which some might see as potentially dangerous (be it physically, emotionally or mentally) depending on the age of said female? We are, after all, talking about students here.

But. Back to my original point (yes, of course, I had one; why do you ask?).

Much along the lines of 'Humpty Dumpty Strikes Again', just because you say it doesn't make it so. And, just as an aside, when you attempt to legislate, you might just want to choose your words carefully. Or else you may just run the risk of legislating "human reproduction" right out of existence, which I'm thinking might have some might nasty consequences, in and of itself.

The Law of Unintended Consequences being what it is.