Leave it to the South Carolina Legislature to shock my system this morning:
A bill, sponsored by Rep. Joan Brady, R-Richland, would require school districts to send home information or include in their student handbooks information about teen dating violence — including how to recognize whether a student is in an abusive relationship and where to go for help.
According to a 2007 state Department of Education survey, nearly 14 percent of S.C. students reported being “hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend” in the previous 12 months.
So far so good. It sounds like a productive idea. But then comes the shock:
The bill hit an unexpected roadblock Wednesday when Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, introduced an amendment requiring the material to address only heterosexual relationships.
“I don’t want the Department of Education or school districts to teach children in grades six through 12 about (same-sex) relationships,” Delleney said.
I don't know where to begin to tell you what's wrong with Delleney's mindset. But I will try.
1. It stands to reason that if children are in a same-sex relationship (and I'm sure there are many who are), I don't think the school can't teach them something they already know. And even if they aren't in a same-sex relationship, children are not naive. Remind me to tell you the theories my 10-year-old cousin relayed to me about some of the characters of High School Musical.
2. Delleny's mindset is pure ignorance. His statement implies that learning about same-sex relationships will be mandatory in classrooms. This is what the bill says:
By Dec. 1, the S.C. Department of Education would have to develop a model dating violence policy to assist school districts in developing policies for reporting and responding to dating violence.
• By the 2010-2011 school year, each school district would establish a specific policy to address incidents of dating violence.
• Each school district’s dating violence policy would have to be published in school and school district handbooks or any publications on the school or district Web site that provide the rules, procedures or standards of conduct for students at school.
3. Delleny's mindset is also offensive. Gays are constantly hit with the barrage of nonsense that we want "special rights," but Delleny went out of his way to exclude us. He doesn't want to help us combat potential violence in our relationships because he doesn't care about us. It's bad enough when this comes from an ordinary citizen but the fact that a legislator publicly voices this notion without any shame is awful.
Delleny wasn't elected for his personal and religious beliefs. He was elected to serve the people of South Carolina regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation. He can't pick and choose who to serve. Or, in this case, who to protect.
His words emphasizes just how difficult it is for gays to live not only in South Carolina but in the United States in general. No other group is subject to the level of disrespect that we generally receive. Delleny wouldn't have gotten away with his public "screw you" if he had made any other group the subject of his tirade.
He will probably get a pat on the back by like minded homophobic individuals. Yes, Delleny is homophobic. I don't really see how anyone can use buzzwords to defend his actions. He isn't protecting traditional relationships or upholding morality.
Delleny is making it acceptable for South Carolina to cover it's ears so as not to hear the pleas of help coming from victims of relationship violence.
In a broader sense, he is making it acceptable to discriminate against South Carolinians simply because he has a personal problem with their sexual orientation.
And this is just basically wrong.