MO State Lawmaker Takes to Twitter in ’Gay T-Shirt’ Tempest
A Missouri state lawmaker evidently got confused about what high school GSAs are and what they do, publicly equating supportive groups with "sexual relationships" in a temperamental Twitter message.
Rep. Kevin Elmer, a Republican member of the Missouri’s House of Representatives who hails from the town of Nixa, was at a book fair taking place at an elementary school attended by his own child, a third-grader, when he saw two high schoolers sporting shirts emblazoned with the word "Harmony" and a graphic showing several generic man and woman symbols. Beneath the word "Harmony" appeared the legend, "Nixa High School Gay-Straight Alliance."
For Elmer, however, the message evidently spoke not of an accepting social climate, but of S-E-X.
"I just think it’s inappropriate to be promoting any sexual relationship in an elementary school, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual," the lawmaker fumed, according to a news article posted at News-Leader.com and an Associated Press article that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, among other publications.
The lawmaker showed some contemporary tech savvy, however, in taking to Twitter to give vent to his displeasure -- not to mention the hip and current vernacular he employed (and almost got right).
"Nix Schools failure," Elmer tweeted. "HS students working elementary school book fair in gay t-shirts." Elmer also posted a photo of one of the students wearing the shirt. The photo did not show the student’s face.
Rep. Elmer was prompt in making the de rigeur claim that his gripe was not motivated by anti-gay bias, telling the press, ""It’s not a gay rights issue, it’s a parental issue," and suggesting that a T-shirt depicting restroom-style man and woman glyphs in a friendly group semi-hug somehow interfered with a parent’s right to transmit moral values to children.
The lawmaker’s complaint was reminiscent of the campaign in California in 2008 to pass the anti-gay measure Proposition 8, which rescinded the existing right of gay and lesbian couples to marry until the measure was struck down in the courts and marriage equality was restored in that state. Anti-gay groups promoted the message that unless marriage was snatched from same-sex families, young children would be taught about gay relationships in the classroom.
But the private matter of relationships, and marriage, is quite a different subject than the public matter of social acceptance and legal equality -- a distinction proponents of GLBT parity have repeatedly made with as much determination as anti-gay activists have displayed in attempting time and again to muddy and blur the issues.