Social conservatism is alive and well in the state of Virginia, and we’ve got a General Assembly to prove it.
Between the reprehensible cuts to education being made in the General Assembly and a newly passed law that would force women seeking abortions to go through an invasive vaginal probing, it’s hard to imagine how much more backwards we can go.
And then this happens.
Suffolk school district administrators are considering a ban on wearing clothes “not in keeping with a student’s gender” because they fear it “causes a disruption and/or distracts others from the education process or poses a health or safety concern.” It’s similar to Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would restrict teachers from teaching about or mentioning homosexuality before high school.
The justification by board members is that the ban will act as an anti-bullying measure.
That’s right – an anti-bullying measure that forces students to conform to social norms and prevents them from self-expression.
With policies like these, there’s no need for bullies.
Apparently, the current school policies that punish bullies are too oppressive, or district administrators feel those students that cross dress do so because they seek to be bullied. But whatever the reason, we do ourselves a great disservice if we allow this policy to slip by unchallenged.
Policy proposals like this distract from the issues that matter. They take away from the issues that actually cause a disruption or distract from the education process, like having enough money to fund art and music electives or having teachers that aren’t overworked because they need a second job to make ends meet.
It’s backwards logic like this ban that erroneously targets the victim as the root of the problem. It’s backwards logic like this that leads to oppression and social atmospheres that condemn those that choose to follow their own paths. Social atmospheres and conditions that, left unchecked, fester and grow with students that will eventually enter college.
If you think that angry preacher that shows up on the Compass every once in a while is bad, imagine in 10 years from now when there’s twice as many of him, out there everyday.
Socially conservative and arguably oppressive policy moves like this and the new personhood law make Virginia an uncomfortable and unattractive place to live. I don’t want Virginia to be known and stereotyped for being socially conservative. I don’t want Virginia to be in the league of states that are great places to visit but weird places to live.
Despite what such legislation might indicate, our country and our generation is slowly progressing into an accepting society. It would be a great shame for us to become associated with laws and policies that don’t accurately reflect our nature.
Last week, VCU students rallied to protest legislation that would violate the rights of Americans. It’s important that we display our opposition to what comes out of the General Assembly, but it’s also important that we display our opposition to such extreme backwardness.
Suffolk may seem like a small, far-off place, but with such controversial legislation flying by without much notice by the public, I wouldn’t be surprised if similar legislation broached the General Assembly floor.
Let’s not forget where the stump of our issues lie, where the backwards attitudes that pervade our legislative houses begin, the place where we form our foundations: our school systems.