Florida’s been under heavy fire lately for a recent piece of legislation referred to as the Don’t Say Gay bill, which basically comes down to keeping any form of reference to anything outside of the ‘mythical norm’ from being discussed in classrooms up until 3rd grade. This means anything that falls under the queer banner is simply not allowed subject matter in the classroom. Whether rainbows are included in this is still up for discussion.
At the same time, my home town of Eau Claire has been under fire for teachers not talking about queer lifestyles. In this case, the schools had told the teachers to not out a child’s ‘atypical’ gender or sexual preferences to their family members. And in this case, the message from those attacking the situation is actually the opposite. They are expecting the teachers to discuss things outside of the ‘mythical norm’, only this time with the parents.
In my head, I like to laugh about how these two things seem to be so far separated from each other, while being basically the same thing. In one case, we simply want to brush under the rug that any sort of queer anything could possibly exist, where on the other side, there’s a discussion about how teachers should be required to let parents know that these things exist as soon as they are aware.
But, even more so, these two are the same thing because they are, obviously, more than a little anti-queer. And more than a little too focused on the idea that there is a standardized ‘normal’ for everyone to adhere to.
So, in Florida, teachers aren’t supposed to even mention the idea of homosexuality to kids, something which is legal across the country. I would assume this would also include not allowing for gay married teachers to talk about their significant others as their husband or wife, correct? Or even if they’re simply dating someone of the same gender? I’m curious how that works if they are transgendered. Will they be required to designate themselves as the gender they most appear to be regardless of the gender they identify with?
While I don’t believe we typically teach much for sexual education to kids younger than 10, the very idea that we would actively shelter these children from the very concept that there is anything outside of man and woman and heterosexual couples is ridiculous. The concept that a teacher could be in trouble under this bill for simply referencing a non-mythical norm person is terrifying. And, the very fact that this bill needs to exist is really a showcase of how far people are willing to go to show their hatred of anything outside of what they consider the norm. Like, is there really that big of an issue in these schools in Florida where 6 year-olds are coming home and making their parents blush with information about the queer community, or is the issue more about not wanting these kids to even be aware that queer people exist. If it’s the latter, well, I think we simply need to look at the history of the Civil Rights movement in America to know what that looks like.
And then here in Eau Claire, we’ve got what, in a lot of ways, is the opposite situation, where people are up in arms because of the idea that teachers wouldn’t tell them if they learn that their kid is queer. Now, I’ll admit, if my kid is queer and I don’t know about it, I’m going to feel like a pretty damned terrible parent. I’d want to know. Because I don’t like the idea that my kid feels like they need to hide a part of themselves from me. But if they don’t feel comfortable telling me about this part of themselves, that’s on me. It’s definitely not on the teacher to cover for the fact that my relationship with my child doesn’t work that way.
And the primary reason a kid wouldn’t feel comfortable opening up about themselves about such things with their parents is because their parents aren’t going to accept that part of them. So, in the situation that a kid is queer, and the teacher tells the parents before the kid is ready to reveal that to them, what are the possible outcomes? Sure, there’s a possibility that the parents will be accepting and loving and everything will work out like roses. The parents may not have earned that level of intimacy with their child, but in this hypothetical example, they do have the opportunity to redeem themselves.
But what’s the more likely outcome? That the parents aren’t going to accept them for who they are. Because, let’s be honest here, the parents who believe they have a right to know this information believe that because they believe that their child is headed down a dangerous path. That their child’s course needs to be corrected.
Which means that the real discussion under fire in both of these cases isn’t what we’re seeing on the surface. No, it’s quite obviously an attack on being queer. It’s the belief that our children need to be ‘protected’ from the queer community.
So, basically, these discussions boil down to the idea of protecting our children from something outside of what we consider the norm. Something that we, as a nation, have declared legal. Something that the majority of Americans realize is just people being who they are. Something that absolutely doesn’t hurt anyone and therefore doesn’t require anyone to be protected from.
The message that I get from all of this is that these people who fall outside of our definition of normal are somehow dangerous.
This is not acceptable.
And this is also the exact reason that your kid isn’t telling you their secrets about their own self-identification. Because they don’t feel loved and accepted as the very person they are. They don’t feel protected.
They feel like an outcast in their very own families.
So, if they can find a teacher who makes them feel comfortable enough for them to want to confide in them, we absolutely cannot take that away. We can’t take away a place where they are able to feel safe and open with who they are. A place where they actually feel protected.
Our prejudice against people who are in any way different seems to know no boundary. And I’m getting really darn tired about it. Queer people have existed for as long as written history, and only in one case in those history books do we have any sort of example where that might have caused a supernatural being to unleash its wrath. And, if you read the story, those folks were a lot more rapey than gay. Interestingly enough, our stigma against rapists doesn’t appear to be nearly as grand as our stigma against queers, although one of those groups performs actual damage while the other just wants to exist.
In truth, there are so many of these things that, if you want to bring religion into it, we should be far more vocal about than being queer. Religious texts talk at length about sexual assault, about divorce, and even about how we shouldn’t judge others, whereas homosexuality is almost an afterthought crammed into a couple of corners. We’ve seen this type of reaction in the past. Racism was backed by religion for ages. Why do we pick and choose simply being different as the one that we need to demonize? Whether it’s the color of one’s skin, who we choose to love, or simply which gender roles we identify most with, these are not reasons to attack. And that’s what this all is. It’s an attack. We’re not protecting our children, we’re attacking those we see as different than us. If anyone needs protecting, it’s those people. The people whose way of life we are trying to destroy. The people we want to hide under the rug. The people we simply don’t think should exist.
And that’s just not cool.