When Christians try to “help” gay teens.

The “don’t say gay” bill in Tennessee died last year, but it has now resurfaced with provisions that would require teachers and counselors to out LGBT teens to their parents.

The general assembly recognizes that certain subjects are particularly sensitive and are, therefore, best explained and discussed within the home. Because of its complex societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications, human sexuality is one such subject. Human sexuality is best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp its complexity and implications [...]

A school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal from counseling a student who is engaging in, or who may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person; provided, that wherever possible such counseling shall be done in consultation with the student’s parents or legal guardians. Parents or legal guardians of students who receive such counseling shall be notified as soon as practicable that such counseling has occurred

The rationale is that homosexuality is a subject best managed at home, and that LGBT teens need their parents.  Only that’s not always true.  What those teens need is somebody who understands which, in a state thick with religion like Tennessee, is often not their parents.

The effect of this measure is to keep teen struggling with their sexual identity in the closet.  That’s a terrible thing, and it’s depressing considering that compassion is being advanced as the motivation for the policy.

Love the sinner, hate the sin.  Just another entry on the long list of ways Christians try to dress up discrimination as love.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://auldshaman.blogspot.com/ Robert Klauka

    It’s an attempt to drive homosexuality back into the shadows because that’s the Xtian comfort zone.

  • TychaBrahe

    Because the fact that LGBT teens are 10 times more likely to be homeless than straight teens wasn’t considered sufficient. Let’s get ALL those queer teens kicked out of the house.

  • eric

    …or who may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person…

    As one commenter on PZ’s site put it: Oh, if only Tennessee had some way of, y’know, educating kids about the risks of sexual behavior.

  • Glodson

    If I buy that this is a bill that has good intentions, helping a young gay teen cope with their budding sexuality, I have a bill that is the work of some very naive people. People that don’t realize that fear of being disowned, beaten, abused or forced into reparative therapy is a very real threat. People that don’t realize that bigoted parents are a major source of concern for young men and women struggling with their sexuality and gender in the backdrop of a very religious area which is a source of these social pressures to act straight, or to pretend your gender and sex match.

    But I don’t entirely buy that. I imagine that a few know the reaction some parents well have, and this threat of being outed will force these teens further into the closet. Maybe I’m seeing the worst there is, but I would bet on this being the intent.

    • Andrew Kohler

      Precisely. This bill seems to me totally analogous to parental notification/consent requirements for minors to have abortions. People who support that garbage say “Children need their parents’ support!” or, better still, “Children need permission slips for field trips, so why not for abortions?” Then they say that if she’s afraid her parents will disown her–she can go to court! Easy as pie to do that when you’re 16 and pregnant, of course. I wonder if there’s a similar provision in this proposed Tennessee law (than which it’s hard to think of anything much more reprehensible).

      As Glodson well notes: if one gives laws such as these the benefit of the doubt (which I do not), then one must conclude that the people are so incredibly naive as to think that all families are happy and functional (um, read the first sentence of Anna Karenina, people). A further note about the abortion case: I love how the anti-abortion crowd fervidly supports these laws, even though (and here I’m thinking about consent rather than notification laws) giving a parent control over a child’s reproductive system logically would set up the parents’ legal right to compel a teenage girl to *terminate* a pregnancy with which she wants to go through (which would be an equal affront to her rights). Does anyone know if there have ever been legal cases with this scenario? I’ve not heard of any.

      The phrase “parental rights” is to be distrusted as much as “family values.” The Proposition 8 people (whose emails I am *still* receive after tracking the campaign more than four years ago) have the motto “Life. Marriage. Parental Authority.”

      • Glodson

        I believe that parents have rights. Most people do. But my rights as a parent should never supersede the welfare of my child. Much like the abortion laws, this law is meant to have the effect of making a parent’s belief in what is “natural” and “moral” about sexuality enforced by the parent.

        But calling this bill the “School Counselors Out Gay Students for Parents to Physically and Emotionally Abuse Them Back into the Closet” just doesn’t have the same ring, even though it really captures the intent well.

        • Andrew Kohler

          Well said, esp. re: the first two sentences.

          Rereading what I wrote, I feel the need to clarify something: I am not out to strip all parental involvement or even control in the lives of their children; not at all. Just as I consider myself to be a person who has values regarding families. But the phrase “parental rights” is often code for cases in which those rights ARE to supersede the welfare of the child, just as “family values” is code for “our right to decide exactly how your family should be operating and what it should look like.”

  • iknklast

    Oh, but then that would give parents, like Sally Kern, Oklahoma legislature, the opportunity to disown their gay kids, and keep their household “pure” from sin. Because children don’t really have rights of their own; the kids belong to the parents. It’s Biblical, you know. And who are we to argue with the Bible? (I can answer that: we’re people who’ve actually read the damn book).

    • Andrew Kohler

      Funny, I thought that the Thirteenth Amendment made it illegal for people to own other people. But, evidently parents have sufficient ownership over their children’s bodies and minds to beat them, deny them medical care, have the ends of their penises cut off, deny them real education through crap like A Beka, and prevent them from having control of their reproductive rights (see my comment above re: Glodson). Oh, and subjecting them to needless psychological torture about hellfire and making them feel ashamed for touching their private parts. (Reminds me of a line from Christopher Hitchens: “Sawing away at the penis with a sharpened stone is divine, touching it, not so much.”) And that’s all here in America–other parts of the world have honor killings, arranged marriages, and female genital mutilation. At least America outlawed the last of those things in the late 1990s: before that some parents did in fact have their little girls medically clitoridectomized. See Patricia Robinett’s The Rape of Innocence and Hanny Lightfoot-Klein’s Children’s Genitals Under the Knife–the latter addresses FGM, male circumcision, and the dreadful practice of “corrective” surgery on intersex children (another “parental right”).

      As JT has often pointed out, the scary thing is that parents who do a lot of this deleterious nonsense love their children as much as any; it’s a case where religion is clearly the impetus for them to commit horrors. And people wonder why Greta Christina is so pissed off….

  • http://skepticfreethought.com/tokenchristian/ Jaime Wise

    Are they claiming that homosexuality is “behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person”?

  • T

    Love the sinner, hate the sin. Just another entry on the long list of ways Christians try to dress up discrimination as love.

    • T

      Great soundbite.

  • Andrew Kohler