COLUMBIA — A bill that would require schools to provide resources to teens about dating violence passed the South Carolina State House Thursday. Debate over LGBT inclusion has turned a seemingly innocuous piece of legislation into a firebrand.
Palmetto State LGBT activists are furious over an amendment to the bill, offered by Republican Greg Delleney (Chester). The amendment, which was approved for the legislation, prohibits the Department of Education from including mention of same-sex relationships in materials designed to educate teens on dating violence.
“I don’t want the Department of Education or school districts to teach children in grades six through 12 about (same-sex) relationships,” Delleney said.
According to The State newspaper, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joan Brady (R-Richland), said she supported Delleney’s amendment.
“My intent is to make sure that every child is protected,” Brady said. “But the predominant occurrence of teen dating violence occurs in girl-boy relationships.”
Advocates are outraged.
“The fact that the state continually tries to find every way to ignore every other type of family … it’s just outrageous,” S.C. Pride Movement President Ryan Wilson told The State.
Ironically, the State House’s move comes at a time when area LGBT organizations had planned on addressing domestic violence. At the end of the month, Wilson’s group, along with the S.C. Gay and Lesbian Business Guild and others, will host a panel discussion and presentation on domestic violence.
Panel discussion organizer Fiona McDevitt told Q-Notes that the state’s continued and willful ignorance of same-sex relationships put lives at jeopardy.
“South Carolina has domestic violence laws that explicitly exclude same-sex survivors of domestic violence,” she said. “This means that individuals cannot obtain orders of protection if they are in a same-sex relationship.”
She said South Carolina is only one of three states that specifically excludes LGBT people from domestic violence protections.
McDevitt also said Brady’s claims about domestic violence are false. “It is a widely held myth in the LGBT community that relationship violence does no occur to the extent that it does in heterosexual couples. This is false. All this myth accomplishes is to create an environment in which people must suffer in silence. The rates of same-sex relationship violence are similar to heterosexual rates.”
McDevitt’s presentation on LGBT domestic violence will be held on May 30, 9 a.m. to Noon at the USC Alumni House, 1731 College Street.