Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Baby Steps versus Goose Stepping

On February 17, 2009, Texas State Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin) filed a bill he co-authored with Rep. Paula Pierson (D-Arlington) designed to address bullying and harassment in public schools.  The bill specifically adds language that extends protection in regards to gender identity or expression and  sexual orientation from bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and discrimination.  It also specifically provides protection from harassment via electronic means on or off school property.  The bill was referred to the public education committee on February 26.

This one of many small baby steps in the form of proposed legislation in Texas.  Equality Texas has a complete listing for anyone interested.  Current bills under consideration include insurance non-discrimination, hospital visitation and medical decision making, workplace discrimination, a hate crimes study, competitive insurance benefits for employees of the University of Texas and Texas A&M, and the Right to Decide Act for medical decisions.

Slowly but surely, in the form of small incremental steps, Texas is inching toward the new 21st century reality.  But, this doesn't mean that all is well.

Coming up next month is the 13th annual Day of Silence on April 17.  The group, Americans for Truth About Homosexuality are attempting to organize a walk-out in protest.  (H/T to Joe.My.God) Citing concerns that, among other things, the Day of Silence disrupts the learning environment and promotes the homosexual "lifestyle".  So, not talking disrupts the learning environment.  How does a walk out not do the same?  In Texas, at least, schools receive a certain dollar amount for every student present each day.  It's one of the reasons that our local school district discourages "Take Your Daughter to Work" day and designates a day in the summer as an alternative that won't interrupt their income.  This group sees the DOS as pasrt of a partisan political action group whose "implicit purpose is to undermine the belief that homosexuality is immoral." They also are dismissive of the idea that the DOS is about protesting discrimination since the idea that gays are victims is false.  Right.

The Day of Silence website addresses this head on: The Day of Silence's purpose is to bring attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment and effective responses. It mus really chap the collective asses of AFTAH to see the legislation in Texas addressing this very issue.

So while the AFTAH goose steps along in the misguided belief that "teh gays" are out to get them, Texas takes baby steps forward.

There might be hope for Texas yet.


Aliceson said...

There must be some loud mouths in Texas that are being heard!

Monica Roberts said...

If people would read their Texas history, the Lone Star State has PROGRESSIVE roots.

Ralph Yarborough, the only Southern based Democratic senator to vote for the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights acts was from Texas.

The Texas law that brought down Tom Delay barring corporate money in legislative campaigns was passed in 1901.

And in the late 80's there was a period in which Austin, Houston, and Dallas all had woman mayors.

The political pendulum is swinging Texas back to its roots and our state's long GOP nightmare will end soon.