The Senator thinks that young people he describes as "sexually confused" or "sexually insecure" might become gay under the current system, where Tennessee educators are allowed to mention the existence of same-sex attraction. Without this information, the Senator feels that these same children would become heterosexual adults, because they would not be "pushed" into a gay lifestyle.
The Senator also mentioned his understanding of the origin of the AIDS epidemic, which was that it was caused by an airline pilot having sex with a monkey in Africa in the 1950's. He was against that, too. I presume he thinks that incident occurred because mentioning monkey-intercoursing in public schools was allowed under the state laws of wherever that monkey-intercourser went to school.
As far as not mentioning the existence of homosexuality to young people by their educators, I'm happy to tell Senator Campfield that experiment has already been tried. On me.
I went to Catholic grade school in the '60's. It was real Catholic school then, not the wussed-down version they have today. The nuns were real nuns. They wore rosaries that rattled like dungeon doors and wimples like the prows of icebreakers.
These women of the cloth never mentioned any kind of sex whatsoever, so they went the Senator one better. However, not being familiar with the Senator's theories, they never seemed concerned that not mentioning heterosexuality would keep us from becoming heterosexuals. They were far more preoccupied with their main project—beating us into Heaven.
My parents never felt the need to fill in the sex education gap, either. They taught me about sex the old-fashioned way—they never mentioned it. By the time I had fathered a child, they must have figured out I had learned enough on my own, because they never mentioned it after that, either.
Just because our parents or our teachers never talked about sex back then doesn't mean we didn't have any guidance at all. Education in the nature of sexuality was cheerfully handled by the older boys in the school. They never used the word "gay." Back then, nobody was gay, except for Julie Andrews, who was pretty and witty and gay, and the Flintstones, who had a gay old time.
The eighth grade boys had other words for gay, and they used them on me ever day. I was identified as a homo, fag and queer because I found school fairly easy to understand, I was so frightened of the nuns that I seldom behaved in a way that got me whacked by them and, most importantly, I was an oldest child. Unlike other kids in my grade, I had no older siblings to protect me.
Having no big brothers or sisters meant you were free game. In the bus on the way home, we were forced to the front. The older and bigger boys sat in the back, with their protected kid siblings in the middle. Along with a steady stream of vituperation, we targetable kids were subject to a storm of paper clips, spitballs, eraser bits and pencil stubs, a veritable haboob of small stationery items, for the duration of the ride. If any of us whimpered or complained, we were told "Shut up, ya little homo."
I know if I had been named Stacey, it would have been worse but it was still bad. I didn't know what a homo was. I knew I didn't want to be one; I thought girls didn't like them, and I knew I wanted girls. Just looking up their plaid uniform skirts as they sat awkwardly at their desks caused me intense longing, as did staring at the only lascivious printed material allowed in my parents' house, the bra and panty ads in the Sears catalogue. Since I was constantly being called a homo, I was resigned to the fact that I was one. I wondered when it would become obvious to everyone. Actually, I wondered when it would become obvious to me. Would I lisp? Would my voice fail to change? Would I start to walk differently?
For some reason, the children in that parochial school yard were very familiar with the rumor that Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors, Hollywood figures of the time, were boyfriends. For a while I thought could ward off my final transformation into homosexuality by concentrating very hard on not sounding like Gomer Pyle.
Finally I was an eight grader myself, and it was my turn to call all the younger boys homos, queers and fags. I did this only half-heartedly, not because I felt it was wrong; on the contrary, it seemed like a moral obligation I was neglecting. I was just still unclear on the concept.
I can't really say at what moment in my teen years I realized I was not gay (it was well before they found that word for it, though) and never would be. I was too busy annoying females with my clumsy, oversexed advances and fuming over my well-deserved rejections to think about it much.
The lesson here is that no one should worry about Senator Campfield's bill. If Tennessee bans its adult educators from talking about homosexuality, the eighth-grade boys of Tennessee will no doubt take over the task with relish. And while being informed about the existence of homosexuality every day in grade school, and in fact being told on a regular basis that I was gay did not result in me becoming a gay adult, I'm sure I was one of the rare ones.
Proof of this may be found in the life story of a kid who lived on the same block as me when we were growing up. He went to public instead of parochial school, and he must never have heard about gay, because he went to a religious college, married his Protestant sweetheart, had two kids and a life career before ditching it all in his forties to go live with a guy named Emilio in Dallas. In other words, he became gay.
The Senator and I figure it took him that long to find out about it.