Or so some social conservatives and bass-ackwards state legislatures would have you believe. A May 5th Salon.com article by Tracy Clark-Flory takes a look at recent abstinence initiatives in Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin, the “Right-Wing Sexual Pathos” behind them, and the impact it can have on kids and their right to a halfway useful education. As opposed to a state-mandated indoctrination. Or, worse, state-mandated instructions to put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and cry “la la la la la” until their wedding day (presumably magically) arrives.
Ms. Clark-Flory addresses the idea that interests me most about a certain brand of singly sex-minded social conservative, and one that is often left out when the mainstream media reports on the topic: the attitude that “seems implicitly to hold that gay sex is so awesome that just hearing about it will make folks want to try it; otherwise, it wouldn’t pose such a threat, now, would it?” Well, no, come to that, it wouldn’t. In fact, it has always seemed to me that the only people who could reasonably suggest that the mere mention of same-sex attraction is so potentially inflammatory that it should be against the law are people for whom the idea of same-sex attraction is in fact just that inflammatory. The rather shrill message that saying “gay” will lead to the downfall of Western Civilization before lunch sends the very clear signal that the only thing standing between these upstanding citizens and bodice-ripping, hair-pulling, sweaty, howling, up-the-bum-no-babies homosex is a continuing and, ideally, stiffening(!) social taboo against same. There is no reason to think that the sight of, let’s say, two men holding hands will send anybody into a lust-crazed, fabric-of-society-shredding homosexual frenzy unless the sight of two men holding hands incites a compelling urge to do that very thing inside you. The most active and vocal crusaders for abstinence-only sex education — the ones that want to outlaw references not only to homosexuality but also to birth control and (horrifying in its ridiculousness) puberty itself — send one message more clearly than any other. I overflow with self-loathing and fear, they might as well say on the floor of the State Senate, and if I have to feel this way about myself, I shall see to it that everyone else does, too. It is nothing less than an effort to codify self-esteem, and it is something up with which we as a society must no longer put.
We are a country at war; we are a country that thinks mega-corporations are more deserving of financial aid than low-income families; we are a country so deep in hock to China and other creditors that our currency loses trading power almost every day. Simply put, we are a country for whom who’s having sex with who is literally the least of our concerns — except possibly for when hetero teens fall victim to abstinence-only education and wind up with another mouth to feed — and politicians who propose and pass laws that imply otherwise should be ousted and replaced. I understand that public education falls within the realm of federal, state, and local lawmakers’ responsibilities, but the micromanaging of sex education policies to the extent that teachers who happen to be passing by two students when they kiss can be held liable for not intervening to prevent a baby being made is not time well spent; would that we devoted so many resources to making sure that graduates from these same school systems are able to read. Activists and Legislators: if you are so dangerously obsessed with sex, homo or otherwise, that you are unable to identify or fulfill your non-sexual responsibilities, then please, go have it. Take the day off, live out a fantasy, blow your load, and come back tomorrow so we can get some real work done.