A lawmaker in Tennessee, one day after the suicide death of fourteen-year old gay Tennessee teen Phillip Parker, wrote a constituent telling her that a gay person is not a “mentally healthy adult human being.” Rep. John Ragan, a Southern Baptist, pro-life, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-education Republican, responded to a constituent’s letter asking him to oppose a now-infamous Tennessee bill that essentially delivers a license to bully to anyone who claims religious or moral prerogative. Ragan used the phrase “mentally healthy adult human being,” as in, gays and lesbians are not mentally healthy adult human beings, three times in his letter.
Kristin M. Johnson a Political Science/Pre-Law student at Middle Tennessee State University, wrote her Congressman, and called the bullying bill, “simply hateful,” adding it is “a travesty of any part of the Constitution, much less the First Amendment.”
The threat to gay or lesbian children (yes, they do exist) or even to children rumored to be gay is quite overt. There is no mistaking that the purpose and language of this bill are to justify and defend anti-gay bullying, which has already caused too much pain and driven too many children to take their own lives. Let me clarify: bullying drove those children to suicide, not simply BEing gay. If you support this bill, you will cause pain, and you may very well cause the deaths of more children like Jacob Rogers. Period.
Jacob Rogers was a Tennessee teen who succumbed to suicide in December after years of anti-gay bullying that friends charge went unacknowledged by local school officials.
Rep. John Ragan responded with a long-winded, oh-so-superior diatribe in which he attempts to use “logic” to explain that homosexuality is a choice, “defined by behavior,” using examples of “pedophilia, prostitution, murder, etc.,” and CDC statistics on HIV/AIDS and suicide to “prove” that gay and lesbian children neither need nor deserve protection.
All of these statistics are facts. A resulting critical thought question might be: do homosexual practitioners disproportionately contract AIDS, hepatitis, or syphilis through their own proclivities and behavior or in “reaction” to opinions of that behavior by others or someone supporting a bill?
Examining another statistic, it has been well known for a decade that suicide is attempted much more frequently in the homosexual community than in the heterosexual community (Mathy, Cochran, Olsen, & Mays, 2009). This same source pointed out that, on average, suicide is approximately three times more likely among homosexuals than heterosexuals.
As a fitting critical thought question, it could be asked if other identifiable groups that engage in behavior of which “others may disapprove” commit suicide at similar rates? In other words, do prostitutes, pedophiles, polygamists, murders, etc., commit suicide at the same, or similar, rates to homosexual behavior practitioners? If similar rates were hypothetically so (not proven to be the case), do these behavior practitioners commit suicide at a higher rate because someone may have disapproved of their behavior or for other reasons? Should society avoid disapproving of pedophilia, prostitution, murder, etc., because practitioners of those behaviors may commit suicide at higher rates?
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” —John Adams
Ragan, despite his chosen ignorance, is far from stupid. Here’s his Wikipedia bio:
John Ragan was born on December 16, 1948 in North Carolina. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and received a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Sciences from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.He also attended the University of Oklahoma, the University of Southern California, the University of North Carolina and the University of Tennessee as a graduate and professional student.
He served as a commissioned officer for 24 years, where he fought as an Air Force pilot in the Vietnam War and in the Middle East. He also taught as adjunct faculty at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the University of Tennessee. He has been a business consultant with 27 businesses, some of which are on the Fortune 100 list.
Johnson, who says she is gay, examines her Congressman’s response, and writes:
Heed, however, the awesome presumption, and particularly the coldness of the rationale, bent and twisted and applied to things not personally understood by him or his ilk in a way they are understood by me, by my Air-Force-brat wife, by all others like us – by all others not exactly like him. This man wrote paragraph after paragraph clearly telling me what, in his view and in the view of others like the sponsor of the bill, by virtue of my “practiced” honesty, openness, and spiritually-based acceptance of my “feelings,” I am not: a “mentally healthy adult human being” in control of my destructive urges. Very, very simply, I beg to differ.
As do we.
Tennessee has a major problem at this very minute: It has all but officially declared war on its LGBTQ citizens — of all ages — and the results are indeed human casualties. We know of two, recently, in Tennessee, but for every suicide by an LGBTQ youth or teen, we know there are dozens we will never know about, hundreds more attempted, and thousands more considered.
The people and especially lawmakers, religious, and school leaders of Tennessee are killing LGBTQ children, not figuratively, but literally.
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