Say Whaaa? US Senator: “Gay People and Unmarried Mothers Shouldn’t Teach”

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Last week, Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), reiterated his belief, first spouted in 2004, that openly gay people and unmarried straight women who are sexually active shouldn’t be allowed to teach in schools. DeMint made the remarks during a 45-minute speech at the Greater Freedom Rally in his home state regarding a range of issues.

According to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the senator “said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.”

This is not the first time the junior Senator has made incredibly homophobic and hateful comments. In 2009 he told Bloomberg news that the thought of an openly gay or lesbian president is enough to make him want to vomit.

I can’t help but wonder- does DeMint think unmarried men who are sleeping with their girlfriend are equally unfit to teach? What about openly gay students in the school- should they be kicked out as well?

DeMint hasn’t been finding much support on this statement, event among fellow GOP-ers. On Tuesday, the executive director of GOProud, a conservative, Washington-based group that supports gay rights, cracked a joke at DeMint’s expense. “Does he want yearly … inspections to make sure these teachers are virgins?’ executive director LaSalvia said.

I might not otherwise bother addressing the comments of a radical and misogynistic Senator, but it seems particularly timely this week given the increased media coverage of  high suicide rates among gay teens. As others have pointed out, bigotry and homophobia affects more than adults- it can be harmful, and even deadly, for kids too. When prominent politicians, members of the media, and even entertainers make statements that suggest or outright declare that gay people have a “values” problem or that they shouldn’t be afforded rights like the rest of the country, that sends a message to everyone– including gay teens and their would-be bullies– that there is something wrong with being gay, and that it’s ok to police other people’s sexualities. Those who claim they care about the issue of bullying and high rates of suicide among gay teens need to take a look at the hatefulness and bigotry being spouted towards LGBTQI folks of all ages, starting in our very own Senate.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is a writer and advocate focusing on race, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. In addition to her work at Feministing, Lori is an Associate Director at Planned Parenthood Global. Lori has previously worked at the United Nations Foundation, the International Women’s Health Coalition, and Human Rights Watch, and has written for a host of print and digital properties including Rookie Magazine, The Grio, and the New York Times Magazine. She regularly appears on radio and television, and has spoken at college campuses across the U.S. about topics like the politics of black hair, transnational movement building, and the undercover feminism of Nicki Minaj. In 2014, she was named to The Root 100 list of the nation's most influential African Americans, and to the Forbes Magazine list of the "30 Under 30" successful people in media.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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