Once again, a teacher is in trouble for playing Macklemore's "Same Love" in class. In a situation reminiscent of the case I wrote about in South Lyon, Mich., the video was deemed "inappropriate" by a North Carolina superintendent, and the teacher was reprimanded without much explanation.
The school administrators are mum with the media, but if there's one thing we do know, it's that "Same Love" has become a litmus test of free-speech rights on LGBT issues. Schools can play movies like Pocahontas that rewrite American history and cover up genocide, but telling kids to accept each other? Oh, hell no!
The last time this happened, media pressure and the ACLU got South Lyon schools to drop their suspension of Susan Johnson. It's easy to imagine that this situation will get worse before it gets better. Another round of public shaming, legal problems and media attention will achieve a similar reversal at Alexander County Schools, or it will become another emblem of anti-gay hate, similar to the suicide cluster in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, which lies within the congressional district of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). Fortunately, it seems that Alexander County residents are already doing quite a bit of shaming in commenting on the school district's press release.
It's becoming increasingly clear that censorship of LGBT themes has a relationship with suicide, bullying and abusive policies toward LGBT persons and children. More than ever, attention needs to be paid to censorship of LGBT issues in society.
"Same Love" has become a cultural measuring stick, a way of testing acceptance of gays and lesbians in any environment. Can you play it at work? Does it play on your radio station? Can your teacher play it at school? It's the perfect thermometer for the chilly LGBT climate. Chances are that if you feel nervous about playing the song out loud at work, then you're working in a hostile climate.
And why is that? What reason does any employer or school district have in trying to censor gay themes? Many organizations think that just because they don't openly discriminate means that they're a welcoming environment. They're not hurting gays, after all; they're just not putting it in everybody's face. And let's think about that for a second: Isn't it funny how whenever folks explain why they approve of gay censorship, their rationale always involves some gross metaphor like "shoving it down our throats," "sticking it in everybody's face" or "throwing it all over the room"? Why is it that conservatives can't imagine social acceptance without the fellatio? It makes you wonder.
But I digress.
We need to live in a society without the blinders on. When we're talking to our kids, we shouldn't be lying to them or covering up history. We've come to accept a huge amount of censorship in our schools, whether it's on the topic of Native American genocide, African-American slavery or LGBT isues. Every once and a while, something like "Same Love" comes along and rocks the boat.
So what do we do when push comes to shove on the high seas of education? Throw the scoundrels overboard. You're on watch, Alexander County.