Any decent human being would have been completely shocked by Tory MP, David Davies’ vulgar comments about gay marriage in a recent Guardian interview. With painful statements such as “I just worry that children are going to be taught that heterosexuality isn’t necessarily the norm” and that gay or bisexual teenagers are merely having a “funny stage”, the interview at first sounds like the words of another bigoted MP. After reading into the interview further, however, his attitudes towards the future of LGBT rights are incredibly worrying.
What Davies appears to be most concerned about is the legalisation of same-sex marriage leading to an introduction of homosexual sex education in schools. His blatantly flawed reasoning is that children may be ‘encouraged’ to become gay by being exposed to this education, and he imagines it will be taught in the manner of a teacher declaring: “this is straight sex, this is gay sex, feel free to choose…”. What Davies fails to register, is that sexuality, and attraction to a specific (or even both) genders, is not a choice. Homosexuality has existed since humanity began, before the prospect of the gay sex education Davies fears so much. Sexuality always exists, and is the most natural of human conditions.
Davies then reiterates his previous statement with: “I’m not absolutely convinced it’s a good idea to be changing sex education to try and say to the people “Feel free to go out and experiment”. I want to know if it would really be so bad if that ended up happening? After all, if somebody isn’t sure, how are they going to find out what their preference is? Some people may never find out, and experiment all their lives, but there’s nothing wrong with that either. Davies’ “funny stage” comment stems from a school friend he had, who declared he was gay, and then three years later married a woman. Yes, teenagers going through puberty often do have a stage where they discover their own sexuality, and maybe even explore it. However, in Davies’ day (he was born in 1970), homosexuality was still pretty taboo amongst many people, and gay people would often resort to entering into opposite sex marriages to hide their sexuality. Times have changed, and Davies can’t apply societal norms from his era (homosexuality was considered a mental illness until the mid-1970s) to the modern world.
If anything, introducing gay sex into sex education would promote a greater understanding and tolerance, as well as acceptance, and children would grow up with these positive attitudes. For gay/bisexual children and those who are not yet sure of their sexuality, gay sex education, taught alongside heterosexual sex education would show them that what they feel is not unnatural. It is okay to be what you are. Young people can help distinguish their preferences by being taught that it’s a natural thing to be attracted to either sex, whatever your gender. If you needed any more reasoning, you just need to look into the natural world; according to News Medical, 1,500 species of animals have homosexual individuals, including Lions, Killer Whales (male couples can stay committed to one another for years), and many species of primate. So essentially, Davies’ claim that heterosexuality should be kept as an accepted norm, is ignorant and very dated.
It all comes back to the “I’m not homophobic but…” debate, and the number of times I have heard the above phrase used with “…but gay marriage shouldn’t be legalised” suffixed onto the end is shocking. The ‘but’ in that sentence only accentuates bigotry and denying one’s homophobia just makes it all the more painful. Gay marriage, and if Davies is right, the introduction of gay sex education, will broaden society’s understanding and tolerance. Being gay or bisexual will finally be seen as a norm, and rightfully so, too.
By Eleanor Healing