For decades, opponents of equality have used one tactic more than any other to scare voters away from supporting justice for LGBT Americans: children. Riding on the decades-old implications that all gay people are pedophiles, that young people can be “recruited” into a same-sex orientation, and the “ick” factor of anal sex, today’s ads, campaigns, and talking points similarly threaten that “homosexuality will be taught in schools.” In recent years, groups like the National Organization for Marriage often can’t be bothered to generate new commercials, recycling the same content from year to year, like this TV ad currently running in New York that is the same exact ad they used two years ago:
Viewers, of course, are expected to ignore the fact that all the threats made in the ad are verifiably untrue.
The truth is that young people (even elementary school students) are quite capable of understanding that some men love men and some women love women without even learning a thing about sex. The documentary It’s Elementary demonstrated this fifteen years ago. The California Senate has passed a bill called the FAIR Education Act, which would require schools to include LGBT history, culture, and visibility in curricula. Some schools are already offering popular “gay studies” courses that even go further in talking about LGBT issues. Research shows that schools that actually talk about how and why anti-gay bullying is bad are safer for LGBT youth than schools that don’t. The inclusion of LGBT identities in schools is not a threat to young people; it’s a threat to their parents who would prefer they oppose LGBT equality.
Queerty’s Dan Villareal tried to make this point last week in a post called, “Can We Please Just Start Admitting That We Do Actually Want To Indoctrinate Kids?” In it, he offers — in Queerty’s traditionally off-color fashion — that LGBT activists should not try to counter the threats made in these ads, but instead own the fact that visibility and awareness are important aspects of social justice. Yes, young people should learn that same-sex families are a part of our culture. More importantly, same-sex families might very well be a part of those young people’s lives — now or in the future. Conversely, Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill is the perfect example of how opponents of LGBT equality are very much trying to prevent any education about the diversity of our society. And Villareal’s post so pushed Tony Perkins’ buttons that the virulently anti-gay Family Research Council responded with a flabbergasted, “SEE?”, using the opportunity to push their lie-ridden “Homosexuality in Your Child’s School” (PDF) fear-mongering propaganda.
Ultimately, media visibility for the LGBT community has far surpassed legal equality, so young people are exposed to all kinds of same-sex families and LGBT political debates as it is. Even this week, the New York Times is showcasing the coming out stories of teenagers. In the end, if young people are “confused” (as the below 2009 NOM ad from New Hampshire suggested), it’s only because opponents of equality have taken every step possible to prevent them from accessing a proper education about the world around them: