Tennessee Bill Would Force Schools to Out Gay Teens

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15-year-old Jadin Bell hanged himself after students bullied him for being gay.

One of the more successful things about Mitt Romney's doomed 2012 campaign was his ability to portray himself as an aw-shucks clean-cut good guy; a Mormon who never drinks or smokes or uses profanity, and quite literally uses the word "gosh" in every day language. But just beneath the thin Ward Cleaver veneer is a sociopath who's incapable of experiencing certain moral and emotional connections to fellow humans.

He possesses the cold, animatronic mind of a CEO. Like so many other men in similar posts, he was able to fire thousands of people without flinching while also raiding and busting-out unsuspecting business after unsuspecting business. This T-1000 Terminator mindset was also evident in his youth, especially when he and his buddies assaulted a student who they thought was gay. Romney pinned John Lauber to the ground and, while the boy screamed out for help, the future Republican nominee for president cut his hair with a pair of scissors.

The immorality of what he did probably never occurred to Romney, as it never occurred to him that his corporate raider business model helped him to earn his fortune on the backs of countless destroyed lives. In schools all across the country, LGBT kids continue to be harassed and terrorized. Just yesterday, a 15-year-old boy named Jadin Bell was removed from life support after doctors informed his  family that he was brain dead. Jadin had tried to commit suicide by hanging himself from a jungle gym at a local schoolyard after being mercilessly bullied for being openly gay. Jadin's mother told the press, "We always knew that Jadin is a special person. Now everyone knows."

Bill Maher once joked that homosexuality can't possibly be a choice because why would any teenager choose to get the shit kicked out of him by cruel thoughtless meatheads (like Romney and too many others)?

So it goes with a reintroduced Tennessee law, SB 234, also known as the 'Don't Say Gay' bill. The law would mandate that teachers and school officials inform parents if their child exhibits LGBT behavior. In fact, the author of the legislation, State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Of Course), referred to the students as being "at risk" for homosexual behavior, not unlike being "at risk" for obesity or alcoholism.

Anyone with half-a-brain can grasp the horrific implications of such a draconian law. Obviously, many teens who suspect they might be gay tend to shy away from informing their parents, and especially other kids, for fear of being rejected by their families and bullied at school. Oftentimes, as Jadin Bell did, LGBT teens will seek out the help and protection of school counselors if they're being accosted and hectored, but the 'Don't Say Gay' bill would effectively cut off this one last place of refuge as many students would fear that by seeking help they'd actually end up being prematurely outted to their parents. And so the targets on their backs would grow larger as they become even more vulnerable to brutal attacks from other students.

ThinkProgress reported that 40 percent of all homeless teens are LGBT. I'm sure you can guess the primary reason: they're afraid to come out to their parents, either because they're ashamed of their sexuality or because their parents would abuse or reject them. Perhaps a little of both in some cases. And now there's a law in Tennessee that would force more and more LGBT teens underground, living as pariahs in a world that treats their natural sexual orientation as criminal behavior sanctionable by schools and reportable to parents, not unlike cheating on a test or bringing a gun to school.

One of the worst things about this law is that, as David Frum implied, it's a reaction to the fact that Republicans appear to be losing the so-called culture wars. They can't seem to hold back the tide of marriage equality so they're reaching for low-hanging fruit: kids. By the way, this is the same Republican Party which, when it's not attacking children, bitches and screeches about "nanny-state" politics. Republicans are against healthier food choices in schools because it's another example of tyrannical Food Nazi Michelle Obama smacking tater-tots and sugary sodas out of the mouths of children. But they're okay with schools becoming anti-gay shark tanks where everyone is on the lookout for evil homosexual behavior, and, for LGBT kids, everyone becomes a potential enemy.

Too many Republicans still believe they can cure homosexuality. In this case, I suppose they think that by outting these kids, parents and schools will talk/threaten/cure/exorcise the gay away before it's too late. Of course this is as ridiculous as the notion of having more guns in schools. Good kids who just want to be accepted for who they are will be utterly cut down in the process.

To that point, what happens next? We could ask Jadin Bell or Matthew Shepard, but sadly they're not with us today. For LGBT teens, if this bill is passed, it'll be more depression, more homelessness, more unchecked bullying and more suicides.

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