02/07/2013 03:16 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Don't Say It!

Tennessee is at it again. A bill has been reintroduced there, one that would prohibit teachers from discussing any "sexuality except heterosexuality in grades K-8." Apparent intent of this "don't say 'gay'" bill is to erase word "gay" from experience of young people because it is inappropriate. In essence, measure is attempting to remove word in order to erase a whole faction of larger community. But this is impossible. Yes, we may be able to remove word from lexicon, but kids will still learn about homosexuality regardless.

I can prove it to you. In post you are currently reading, I have removed a certain, common English word from all sentences. This word is present in any writing in English, but is only a small part of overall grouping of words. It is like gay community in United States, in that it is merely one part of bigger whole. Now, as you continue to read, you can see that removal of word does not impede your understanding of sentence. You can still discern what I am trying to convey to you, because surrounding words still convey my meaning. But it is just not same, is it? You can remove word as much as you want, but word's presence is still felt, isn't that truth? You are aware on some level that something is missing from overall structure of essay, but your brain allows you to fill in gaps to make sense of argument. Hopefully, you will get most of education writer is trying to impart, but that is because you have experience with word. Your brain is allowing for word to be present in sentence structure, whether word is removed or not.

Now that you have been reading post without word, will it affect your use of word when you finish reading post? When you turn off computer, will your sentences sound like: "Have you seen remote control?" or, "Do you want to go to movies?" Erasure of word in this post did not make you think word does not exist in world, correct? Probably not. But its omission does make you feel as if something is missing from equation, that you are not getting writer's entire meaning, yes?

When you turn off computer, you will probably use word throughout day anyway, despite fact that word was removed from your reading. I may pretend word does not exist, but that does not make word go away for rest of society. For goodness' sake, great writers' works would not be same without word. For example, would Shakespeare be same writer if he had written, "To be or not to be, that is question"? Would Dickens be as memorable if he had written, "It was best of times, it was worst of times"?

I would venture to say that word is going to be bandied about quite often throughout day by all sorts of people, no matter how hard I may try to get people to remove it from their vocabulary. Word is still present. Word still exists. Word does not disappear just because I choose not to use word in this essay.

Stopping teachers from using word will not stop students from knowing word. It will not stop them from asking about word or from being aware that word is present in world around them. And, for some, embracing word is still going to happen in future. These kids may not hear word in kindergarten, elementary school or junior high school, but that will not stop people from using word loud and proud. It will not stop students from hearing word in other contexts.

Point here is that attempts to remove something that is present and real in society cannot succeed. We must allow children to be fully educated. We must fight against Tennessee bill that wishes to limit kids' knowledge and understanding and experience of world.