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


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 started blogging with Feministing in 2008, and now runs partnerships and strategy as a co-Executive Director. She is also the Director of Youth Engagement at Women Deliver, where she promotes meaningful youth engagement in international development efforts, including through running the award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. Lori was formerly the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and has also worked at the United Nations Foundation on the Secretary-General's flagship Every Woman Every Child initiative, and at the International Women’s Health Coalition and Human Rights Watch. As a leading voice on women’s rights issues, Lori frequently consults, speaks and publishes on feminism, activism and movement-building. A graduate of Harvard University, Lori has been named to The Root 100 list of the most influential African Americans in the United States, and to Forbes Magazine‘s list of the “30 Under 30” successful mediamakers. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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

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