Tennessee Lawmakers Need A Reality Check - And Response

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Tennessee lawmakers continue to prove that not only are the completely out of touch with reality, but that they also only care about their agendas and political careers.. not the best interest of our children.

The Gateway Sexual Activity Bill was passed by the Tennessee House of Representatives.  The bill outlaws students handholding with each other while at school (because, according to the Tennessee House of Reps this is a "gateway" to sexual activity.)  It also allows the parents of the student to sue the teachers if they feel the teachers aren't doing enough to prevent sexual activity among the students.

This bill is so ridiculous and so far out of touch with reality I don't even know where to begin.  Since when is holding hands with someone a gateway to sexual activity?  That is completely flawed, and very typical thinking of the bible belt, which has sexualized so much innocent behavior it's ridiculous.  I have held hands with many people in my almost 38 years on this earth... it doesn't mean I wanted to have sex with all of them.  

And since when is it the responsibility of teachers to parent our children?  Teachers are held responsible for everything... our children's behavior at school, our children's grades, our children's attitudes.  When I was growing up, I was the one held accountable for my grades, behavior, and attitude, not my teachers.  If I got a bad grade, I was punished... not my teachers.  If I misbehaved in school, I was punished... not my teachers.  

I can't count the number of times I have been at my child's school hearing a teacher get yelled at by some parent, because the teacher didn't give their kid a good grade, or because the teacher didn't prevent their child from getting in trouble.  It's the parents' job to parent their children, not the teachers job.  Teachers are there to teach our children... which is almost impossible to do these days with all these ridiculous policies and laws.  They have no power over their own classrooms anymore.

Our kids are more sexually active these days at a much younger age than ever before... but it's not the fault of their teachers.  It's because they have little to no supervision at home.  It's because they can watch whatever they want too on T.V., do whatever they want to on the internet, can stay up as late as they want, and are allowed to roam all over the streets without any supervision.   When I was in downtown Chattanooga a couple of weekends ago, I saw nothing but an ocean of teenagers.  Part of that was due to prom... but I also saw many kids my daughter's age who aren't even in high school yet.  My daughter is 14-years-old, and there is no way on earth I would let her wander the streets of Chattanooga only with her friends without any adult supervision.  

But that is the reality many young people face today... they are on their own in this big bad world of facebook, cell phones, and internet, with little to no parental supervision.  Yet we somehow expect our children to make good decisions at the age of 14 or younger.  There is still so much to learn at that age, there is no way they can always make good, responsible, informed decisions.

If Tennessee lawmakers want to hold anyone accountable for our children today, why aren't they holding their parents accountable? Why aren't they holding the children accountable?  The passing of this ridiculous law has only further paralyzed our teachers and tied their hands.  They can't properly teach our children and prepare them for the future  with the  way things currently are in our public school system. 

Years ago, two potential opportunities arose for our family... one to move to Colorado, and one to move to Kentucky.  Both times, we chose to stay here.  I regret that decision more and more as I see how poorly she is being prepared for her future by the school system here.  And it's not because she has bad teachers.  She has some of the most wonderful teachers in the world.  It's because of the way of life here in Tennessee today... there is a reason Tennessee is the laughing stock of the country, and a reason why we have one of the worse education systems in the country.  It's due to the ridiculous lawmakers who try to use government power to regulate the behavior of the people and try to force us to act the way they think we should act.  An abuse of government power at its worst.  Just because our lawmakers might get sexually turned on if they hold someone's hand doesn't mean our kids follow that same line of thinking. 

 Mariah Smith

 * * *

I wholeheartedly agree with Mariah Smith on this issue. Unfortunately, I do not think we can place sole blame on out-of-touch lawmakers. They are reflecting the collective will of the voters who elected them. 

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Chattanooga, moving away in 2003 to pursue further education.  I had a good experience growing up in the Scenic City, and I still love to come visit the sights as well as dear friends and family. However, seeing how many people in Tennessee appear bent on taking the Volunteer State backwards, I find it harder and harder to want to move back. 

I prefer to raise my family in an environment that is less paranoid about basic human sexuality and affection. 

Jonathan McGlumphy
Blacksburg, Va.



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