GLSEN’s Safe Space: Let the Fear Mongering Begin!

A couple more comments on that Victor Fehrenbach interview I posted this morning. This time I want to focus on comments made in the last 20 minutes during the discussion with host Ana Marie Cox, Amanda Carpenter of the Washington Times, and Mike Madden of Salon.com. Here’s the audio again:

safe-spaceI wanted to clear up the gross mischaracterization by Amanda Carpenter of the “Safe Space” stickers and related program from GLSEN. They have nothing to do with sexual intercourse. They don’t indicate a room in the school that’s been outfitted with big fat dildos and tubs of lubricant. They don’t include a picture of two dudes in flagrante delecto. (A sample of the sticker is at left. It’s shocking, I know.) They simply indicate a safe space (hence the name) where LGBT kids in middle and high school can talk to someone if they want. From GLSEN’s Safe Space program manual (pdf):

According to GLSEN’s 2005 National School Climate Survey, a majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students feel unsafe at school and are likely to skip class or even days of school out of fear for personal safety. The research also indicates that students who can identify a supportive faculty/staff member or student group are more likely to feel a sense of belonging at their school than those who cannot. For many students, the presence of allies to whom they can turn for support—or even the simple knowledge that allies exist—can be a big factor in developing a positive sense of self, building community, coping with bias, and working to improve school climate. Safe Space programs increase the visible presence of student and adult allies who can help to shape a school culture that is accepting of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or other differences. (The results of GLSEN’s survey are summarized on page 4 of the Safe Space handouts packet.)

Again, this has nothing to do with sexual intercourse, just like home economics classes in the 1950s weren’t about the missionary position. Frankly, Carpenter’s suggestion that they somehow lead to talk of s-e-x in the classroom (always an easy scare tactic) is more than a little offensive. I guess next she’ll expect conservatives to rally against girls writing their name with the boy they like’s last name all over their Jonas Brothers notebook.

In reference to another of Carpenter’s comments, isn’t it interesting how the “government should get out of marriage” talk surfaces whenever we make some advancement toward equality? It’s a throwback “take my ball and go home” mentality that I wish we could’ve left in middle school.

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