Tennessee is in the infancy of its comprehensive juvenile justice system reform. However, some lessons have been learned. If racial and ethnic justice is a priority, every proposed provision of the reform must be viewed through a racial and ethnic justice lens.
Juvenile justice reform advocates were able to claim a partial victory after a Tennessee judge ruled that a 16-year-old can’t be kept in an adult prison while she waits for trial on murder charges — but they stressed that the real struggle for her humane treatment has only just begun.
Legislation banning the discussion of homosexuality in Tennessee classrooms has just passed that state’s Senate. Referred to by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Senate Bill 49 would affect prepared materials and instruction in kindergarten through eighth grade. Popular “Star Trek” alum and noted gay activist George Takei wants LGBT youth to know he has a workaround if the bill becomes law. In a video posted on Youtube, Takei suggests replacing the word “gay” with his own name: “Takei.”
“The so-called ‘don’t say gay’ law is premised on the misguided belief that, by not talking about gay people, they can simply make us disappear,” Takei said. The video offers several suggestions for where use of the term “Takei” would be appropriate, including, “I am a supporter of ‘Takei marriage’.”