Monday, May 18, 2009

SC House Nixes LGBT People in Date-Abuse Bill

South Carolina lawmakers want to prevent violence in teen relationships but won't allow a new school program aimed at curbing such abuse to mention gay and lesbian partnerships.

State representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to bar any mention of homosexual relationships in the new program for middle and high school students. The move was pushed by lawmakers who said they don't want schools teaching about gay relationships and said they doubt those partnerships have high levels of abuse.

PFLAG National's former Director of Communications, Steve Ralls (who recently joined the team over at Immigration Equality), told the Associated Press, "We are astounded that there are those who would prioritize their own homophobia ahead of the safety of the young people of South Carolina." He added, "Lesbian and gay young people are often doubly vulnerable when they are in environments where they are disrespected and adults are sending clear messages that their well-being isn't as important."

Elke Kennedy, the mother of a gay man who was killed outside a Greenville County bar two years ago said South Carolina lawmakers shouldn't decide to protect some children and not others. Her son's assailant pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

"It's kind of scary, especially when we start talking about, 'Well, let's see, let's pick and choose which kids we're going to protect.' Are they going to make a difference between black and white, too?" said Elke Kennedy. "We cannot stand by and continue to let them pass laws based on bias."

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