I was smiling the entire time I was writing the blog "Pence's New Neighbors Decorate Homes With Rainbow Flags." It was just a simple motion, very little money spent, but it spoke volumes and resonated around the world. Apparently great wonderful sounds have a horrific echo. My smile quickly faded.
Lafayette Elementary School in DC has taken down a rainbow flag because its principal is wary of “wading into political waters.” The school is located in Chevy Chase, the Northwest neighborhood where Mike Pence is living while he awaits installation as vice president, and where his temporary neighbors are conspicuously displaying rainbow flags to protest Pence’s consistently anti-gay stances over the years.
The school received the flag as a “gift from the neighborhood” and displayed it, Lafayette Principal Carrie Broquard wrote in a note to parents sent Monday. However, “Given the current political landscape, our commitment is to remain neutral,” she writes. “In order to avoid any unwanted attention or to have any symbols misinterpreted as a political action, the flag has been removed.” – washingtonian.com
You can read Broquard's entire note at the bottom of this post.
But is taking the gay out of schools the way we are heading if we are not too careful? And it's not just taking the flag out of the school but the word, the idea, the ability to talk about anything non-heterosexual. It's already legally been done in too many states.
One of our readers, Aiden Vargas, shared this personal video with us on December 8th. I had heard the words "No Promo Homo" before, but to be honest, I guess it really didn't register or sink in. I was naive. I asked around and others in my circle did not know about them either.
From thetrevorproject.org , we have the following information.
Policies known as “No Promo Homo” and “Don’t Say Gay” laws ban educators from talking about LGBTQ people, issues or history at all or only allow negative discussion. These laws keep supportive teachers from speaking out in the classroom and may restrict or even eliminate vital safe spaces and affirming resources for LGBTQ youth, including activities, clubs, and discussions that support LGBTQ students.
Compared to states without “No Promo Laws”, LGBTQ students in states with these harmful laws were:
- Less likely to report having supportive teachers and staff at their school
- Less likely to report having LGBT-related resources in school
- Less likely to report effective intervention from school staff in handling bullying and harassment problems
- More likely to report hearing homophobic remarks from school staff – thetrevorproject.org
The Trevor Project color coded the orange states as places where laws restrict inclusion.
GLSEN gives us a couple of more maps on the subject as well as the word enumeration.
The first type of safe schools law is fully enumerated anti-bullying laws. These are laws that specifically prohibit bullying and harassment of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity. These laws most often use both terms: "bullying" and "harassment" but in some cases may use only one. The map below indicates those states which have anti-bullying laws which specifically protect students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. – GLSEN
Enumeration means that these states protect students from being bullied because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
The second type is non-discrimination laws which many states have passed to provide protection from discrimination to LGBT students in schools. There are some non-discrimination laws that protect from discrimination based on sexual orientation but not gender identity. The map below details those states which have non-discrimination laws which apply to schools and protect students on the basis of sexual orientation (blue in the map below) or sexual orientation as well as gender identity (magenta in the map below) – GLSEN
The GLSEN "No Promo Homo" state map is a little bit different than The Trevor Project one since it also includes South Dakota and Missouri which prohibit enumeration.
One example of such laws are "no promo homo" laws, local or state education laws that expressly forbid teachers from discussing gay and transgender issues (including sexual health and HIV/AIDS awareness) in a positive light-if at all. Some laws even require that teachers actively portray LGBT people in a negative or inaccurate way. These statutes only serve to further stigmatize LGBT students by providing K-12 students false, misleading, or incomplete information about LGBT people. – GLSEN
GLSEN also opposes state laws that purport to prevent bullying and harassment, but which prohibit local school districts from having enumerated anti-bullying policies (in gray).
Do you remember what it was like to be in school, gay, with questions, looking for support, an ear, help? None of that is legally available in too many states in the nation. I remember driving through the south in November and hopping on GRINDR. I had my former work wife with me so there was no way I would be meeting up with these guys, but I just wanted to see who was on the grid. There were some good looking guys on there, but I just kept feeling bad for them. As I drove through economically vacant towns expecting a herd of tumbleweed to swam my car at any moment, all I could think about was how hard it must have been to grow up in these states that are so well known for their negativity toward LGBT people. "No Promo Homo" laws seem to only legally magnify the bigotry, negativity, hatred toward our community.
What can we do? One state is seeing what we can do.
A lawsuit filed [on October 21st] seeks to overturn a Utah state law that prohibits teachers from talking about homosexuality in a favorable way.
Two gay students and a 7-year-old gender-nonconforming are being represented by two gay right groups, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Equality Utah, reports the Cache Valley Daily.com.
The suit alleges that current state law prevented a teacher from being able to properly help a 7-year-old student who was being bullied for wearing girl’s clothes.
The "No Promo Homo" law has been in the Utah books since 2001 when it passed with no issues at all. Other aspects included in the law besides preventing teaching on “advocacy of homosexuality,” are blocking teaching / mentioning about contraceptives and sex outside of marriage. For more on this, head over to dailycaller.com. And here's a little more on the Utah case from HumanRightsWatch.
What do you think Instincters.
Will the "No Promo Homo" states lessen in the near future?
Is this a fight that needs our attention more than ever?
If we worry about children being bullied and committing suicide, these maps should be one of our first priorities.
Let's keep our eyes on Utah and wish morality the best of luck.
Broquard’s full note to parents includes a list of ways the school plans to celebrate its “commitment to inclusivity” in the absence of the flag. Here’s the note:Dear Lafayette Families –You may have noticed that over the weekend a rainbow flag was hung from the Lafayette sign as a gift from the neighborhood. As a public school, we welcome all students and families of all identities. We at Lafayette pride ourselves on our diversity and our inclusivity, including but not limited to LGBQT families.
While Lafayette and DCPS are committed to diversity and inclusivity, we also need to be mindful of wading into political waters. Given the current political landscape, our commitment is to remain neutral. In order to avoid any unwanted attention or to have any symbols misinterpreted as a political action, the flag has been removed. However, our commitment to inclusivity remain strong. The following are ways that we are celebrating over the next week:
– “We Are Lafayette” lunch assemblies hosted by myself and the student council. We will celebrate the many languages, nations, and cultures that are represented here at Lafayette.
– “We Are Lafayette” poster that was sent home last week. Families are encouraged to create a drawing that represents what makes you such a special contribution to our Lafayette family. We will compile all the posters and create a visual display representing all of us – “We Are Lafayette.”– Daily messages of inclusion, kindness, and understanding through our Peace Class and Peace Club. – washingtonian.com