Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Abuse in gay relationships? Apparently not.

Just when we thought we broke through one barrier, it seems someone was quick to put up another. Last week, House lawmakers in South Carolina approved a bill (H. 3543) that will require schools to have policies in place for reporting and responding to dating violence. This bill also requires that schools provide information about teen dating violence to students and their parents—great news, right?! Well no, not exactly. Unfortunately, someone felt it was important to explicitly state on the bill that this ONLY relates to heterosexual relationships. Gays need not apply.

As if making this change to the bill weren’t bad enough, the most disturbing thing about this change is that the bill itself did not make any reference to gay relationships, or any specific type of relationship, for that matter. On May 13, 2009, the bill stated the following:

“'Dating partner' means a person, regardless of gender, involved in an intimate relationship with another, primarily characterized by the expectation of affectionate involvement whether casual, serious, or long term.”

Apparently this wasn’t enough for Rep. Greg Delleney (R-Chester) who requested the amendment and so on May 14, 2009 the bill was changed to the following:

“'Dating partner' means a person involved in a heterosexual dating relationship with another.”

To go out of one’s way to make this point clear is such an overt act of discrimination. Rep. Delleney simply said he did not want children to be taught about gay relationships. It seems he didn’t get the memo which states that the bill is simply intended to teach (ALL youth) about healthy relationships and recognizing abuse. I wonder what he’d say to parents of abuse victims in same-sex relationships—“Sorry, your child just isn’t covered by our policy.”

It’s also mind boggling that one of the original bill sponsors had no issue with the suggested amendment. Rep. Joan Brady (R-Richland) said she wants every child to be protected but that dating violence occurs with more frequency in heterosexual relationships. We have news for you, Rep. Joan Brady…abuse does happen in gay relationships, more than you and I could ever imagine. Oh, and it also happens to the rich, poor, black, white and everyone in between, below, above and beyond.

It’s probably true that we don’t have alarming statistics to show the high rates in which dating violence occurs in gay relationships. But perhaps we’re not asking the right questions. Perhaps we’re not doing a good job of addressing the issue within the LGBTQ community which, by the way, faces greater challenges when seeking help than victims in heterosexual relationships.

And if this is how people in power are likely to respond when they have the opportunity to do something about it, then how could we ever expect victims in gay relationships to report the abuse? Thanks to an obviously callous lack of support, we may never really know how bad it really is. Abuse happens and it happens a lot. Abuse does not discriminate, but sadly people do.
-G

2 comments:

  1. Oh, and it also happens to the rich, poor, black, white and everyone in between, below, above and beyond.

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