Economist and conservative commentator Thomas Sowell should know better. He asserts the reason the media is paying so much attention to bullying of LGBT youth is because of the influence of LGBT journalists in the newsroom–all members of NLGJA, apparently–who are pushing an agenda.
Women can say anything they want to men, or blacks to whites, with impunity. But strong words in the other direction can bring down on students the wrath of the campus thought police — as well as punishments that can extend to suspension or expulsion.
Is this what we want in our public schools?
The school authorities can ignore the beating-up of Asian kids, but homosexual organizations have enough political clout that they cannot be ignored. Moreover, there are enough avowed homosexuals among journalists that they have their own National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association — so continuing media publicity will ensure that the authorities will have to “do something.”
But political pressures to “do something” have been behind many counterproductive and even dangerous policies.
It’s a typical smear, that “avowed homosexuals” join a group like NLGJA to tilt the coverage of LGBT issues in order to further a larger agenda. Nevermind that Asian American journalists have their own organization–our UNITY partners the Asian American Journalists Association–they apparently are unable to advance an agenda for Asian kids the way the gays can.
So beyond the nonsense and boilerplate conservative rhetoric on political correctness, Sowell raises some interesting questions about the effectiveness of anti-bullying efforts and whether teaching about LGBT history will really have an impact on bullying or the lives of LGBT youth. Here’s what Timothy Kincaid at Box Turtle Bulletin has to say about those points:
The programs put in place by schools to “address it and move on” do not seem to be significantly reducing the abuse. Often they are just the process the administration goes through in order to deflect blame or criticism. And even those schools which care and in which administrators genuinely and sincerely are trying to stop the bullying, the programs have not proven to be as effective as we would like. The problem of bullying is a cultural problem and one which needs to be addressed on a grander scale.
And (though this may anger some readers) sometimes our goals fall victim to a emotion/reason divide in which we have an abundance of people who feel and care and love and support but not too many who are cranky but make tough decisions, plot out strategies, and know how to effect change in real and tangible ways.
We have a narrow window before the public gets bored and the latest and newest urgent issue fad sweeps bullying into the corner. We simply don’t have the time to let our feelings drive our response.
Bullying is too important and the consequences are too real for this issue to be squandered on political grandstanding and organizational fundraising. And that is what California’s Senate Bill 48, the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, seems to me to be.
California’s laws are about as inclusive as it is possible to be. Other than marriage – about which the legislature can do nothing – gay and lesbian (and to a great extent transgender) Californians have full civil equality. In much of the state social equality is a given and in some places religious equality is the norm.
And while that is great for gay Californians, it isn’t so great for the employees of gay organizations who don’t want to go out of business or for politicians who rely on the contributions and votes that come with being “your champion in Sacramento”. It isn’t even good news for anti-gay activists who need to have a good scare to stir up the masses.
And consequently, in the past few years we have seen the California legislature deal with the establishment of Harvey Milk Day and SB48. They were created expressly for the purposes of giving State Senator Mark Leno a pretense of defending the community, giving the Democratic super-majority an opportunity to demean the minority party, giving extremist Republicans a chance to pander to the base, and giving Equality California a reason to ask for money.
Kincaid raises interesting points about how the issue of bullying is covered and whether activist groups–and the media–are squandering the opportunity to educate people about bullying and make an impact by focusing on the wrong things and overplaying the issue.
I’m happy the media is paying so much attention to bullying, but I do wonder if it is overexposed and whether it is really helping anything. Maybe it’s a long-haul effort, but does yet another It Gets Better video by the touring company of Starlight Express really have an impact and is reporting on it really helping kids and stopping bullying? Is all the media attention on bullying of LGBT kids really working and appropriate, or is it just another media trend that will disappear the moment the next-hot-issue shows up?