Response to Anti-LGBT Legislation Part One: Schools

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In recent months, there has been an onslaught of anti-LGBT legislation across the country. 

From Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill to Texas governor, Greg Abbot’s, executive order that instructed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents of trans children for child abuse, bills like these have been popping up all across the country. Suffice it to say, this sets an extremely worrying precedent, because these bills are not only attacking the education system but also fundamental human and constitutional rights.

The aforementioned “Don’t Say Gay” bill has been at the forefront of the recent news cycle and is the most high-profile case. 

Now being followed by Georgia, the recently signed bill removes any mention of LGBT people from the curriculum from grades K-3. I know some may say that’s a good thing because it supposedly should be up to the parents but simply speaking, it shouldn’t. 

Using the line of logic that LGBT people and issues shouldn’t be discussed, then we shouldn’t talk about racism in school and just not address how racial injustice is a core part of U.S. history. 

Oh wait, people are now trying to get that banned too despite it being something that has been taught since my grandfather went to school.

Just like racism, sexism, xenophobia, and more, homophobia and transphobia are things that should be addressed in schools. Despite what conservative politicians may tell you, school isn’t just about math, English, and science. 

Education is also about preparing children for the real world and it’s important for kids to know and properly understand these issues. Sheltering children from these real-world issues will only make it harder for them to learn and understand later in life, and if they happen to be LGBT, it will only make it harder to come to terms with their sexuality and identity. 

Many will commonly say that these topics should only be taught by the parents, as they think sexuality is equivalent to giving someone “The Talk,” but that’s simply not the case. 

You can talk about gay, bi, and trans people without explicitly talking about sex, just like you can for any straight and cisgender person. I promise it’s really not hard to explain to a 7-year old that sometimes men love men and women love women and explaining it to middle and high school kids should not be difficult by extension. Every child knows the concept of committed romantic relationships, so to say that they won’t understand it is just ludicrous.

Let’s call a spade a spade though, the people advocating for these bills don’t care about any of this. These talking points are essentially just a cover-up for how they actually feel. To put it simply, these people just think LGBT people are icky. A bill in Oklahoma, SB 1142, plans to effectively ban any book that discusses sexuality with the saying “the study of sex, sexual preferences, sexual activity, sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, sexual identity, or gender identity or books that are of a sexual nature that a reasonable parent or legal guardian would want to know of or approve of prior to their child being exposed to it.”

At first glance, this may sound like it was written by someone trying to shelter their children, but words are important to revealing the motives behind the words. Among all the things listed, they snuck in the words “sexual perversion” essentially implying that anyone who isn’t straight is perverted or a sexual deviant. 

To boot, the bill allows a parent to request a book be taken off shelves, and if it isn’t, the parent can get $10,000 a day every day it isn’t removed. In effect, this would simply mean that schools would be bullied into removing these books so that they don’t lose money over it.

Furthermore, there’s a bill in Tennessee, HB 0800, that would ban any “LGBTQ lifestyle issues” from school curricula. 

Again, words reveal motives and one very important word reveals the motivations behind the bill. They use the word “lifestyle,” implying that people’s identity is a lifestyle. Being gay, bi, trans, or nonbinary is not a “lifestyle.” Using this logic, being Black or white is a lifestyle, being a man or woman is a lifestyle, having brown hair is a lifestyle. 

Being attracted to people or identifying with a certain gender identity is not a lifestyle, and the idea that it is, is only pushed by anti-LGBT proponents. Being a dorm rat, partyer, gamer, movie fan, athlete, or bookworm is a lifestyle choice. It’s something that you have complete control over and can decide not to do; you can’t decide who you are attracted to.

Before I’m done talking about schools, I need to discuss a proposed provision of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that goes above and beyond everything previously discussed. This provision would have made it so Florida schools would be legally mandated to out LGBT children to their parents within 6 weeks of finding out. 

To put it bluntly, forcefully outing LGBT kids to their parents would be a disastrous measure that would only lead to more child abuse and LGBT depression, and suicide. I acknowledge parents want to know what their kids are up to but not every parent is supportive and loving. Outing kids to their parents would lead to a massive spike in abuse from homophobic and anti-LGBT parents. Kids could be physically abused, mentally abused, shunned, kicked out of the house, or worse. There are many horrible people out there and parents aren’t exempt from that. 

Despite that, how would you want to find out your child’s sexuality or gender identity? From a school legally mandated to do so or when your child is ready to talk about it with you? I know I would choose the latter any day of the week. Thankfully this provision was withdrawn, but it is appalling that it was even on the table in the first place.