Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Documentary on GLBT teens in TN is a powerful argument against the License to Bully bill

There's a new documentary coming out on the lives of gay and transgender teens in Tennessee

You don't have to wonder why they picked Tennessee.  We're clearly not coastal America, so there's the rhetoric of realness.  But there is also the matter of our struggles with anti-gay legislation targeting schools like the Don't Say Gay bill and the License to Bully bill. 

For me, this clip completely obliterates the License to Bully bill:

Joseph is 16 and lives in Oak Ridge.  He talks about being bullied and discusses the fact that he considered taking his own life.  It's moving to listen as he talks about how he emerged from these struggles.

But one thing he said is related directly to the License to Bully bill and it turns on a question that proponents have never to my knowledge answered in public, though we've asked them many times.

Joseph discussed the incident in which a fellow student came at him with the Bible and told him he is going to Hell. 

What TEP has consistently asked about the License to Bully bill is whether this is the kind of religious speech the bill is designed to protect.  Like I said, we've never received an answer on that one. 

It's one thing to protect people's religious perspectives in a civilized debate about an issue like marriage in a high school social studies class.  But there is clearly a problem if students are threatening each other with Hell at a public school. 

If more people heard Joseph's story, maybe we would have an easier time fighting these bills. 

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