For my first post in forever, I wanted to just put a big block in the middle of the page that looked like this:
Maybe in rainbow letters….maybe with more of a swirly font…..but just that one word. Then hit post and clap my hands together for a job well done. But I won’t.
Obviously, I’m referring to the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, as progressives are calling it and the “Parental Rights in Education” Bill, as conservatives are calling it.
I’ll start right off by saying that I hate how this has been named. “Parental Rights in Education”? How insanely misleading. It allows somebody who is uneducated and uninterested in the actual contents of the bill to support it completely without reading it. OF COURSE parental involvement is important in education and, OF COURSE, parents should get input in the process. So let’s slap that seal of approval on this baby and move on.
Speaking transparently though- I had to look up the actual name of this bill, because, since I live in a liberal echo chamber, I had ONLY heard it referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. I mean, I knew it wasn’t ACTUALLY named that. Well….I hoped it wasn’t actually named that. After the farce that was the Trump presidency and administration (I’m out of the Army- I can say that stuff now!!!), I find myself needing to double-check anything to do with politics and most other things in the news, at this point.
This is probably a good thing. I won’t say that this was a lesson that He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named exclusively could have reminded me of, or that there wasn’t a better way for us to learn, but it’s my silver lining (and it’s about the only one I can come up with). We NEED TO DO OUR RESEARCH. Real research. Not just passively listening to our favorite news outlets, noticing something on Facebook, or glancing at a Reddit headline–research where we actually look at multiple sources, examine evidence, and read the DANG THING.
So…I read the DANG THING. Which is something I try to do most of the time, but it was especially important for me to do in this case, because it would have been really easy for me to jump on the “Cancel the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill’ Train” without giving it a second thought. I did give it a second thought though, which is why I didn’t just write the word “GAY” as a blog post and call it a day.
Guess what, though. After reading the real bill….I’m STILL on the train. If I could be the conductor of that damn train, I would be.
I read the bill and it’s still bad. It’s not a buzz word or a party or a political stance- it’s damaging from a human perspective that kills me, because we are talking about one of the most vulnerable of our populations….our children.
I am well aware of the fact that the most conservative and religious of people view this bill as something that will protect their children FROM something diabolical, immoral, or disgusting. I don’t agree at all- but, I’m aware.
My heartbreak in this matter is coming from the fact that you can make an actual Punnett Square in terms of the outcomes of passing this.
Punnett Squares typically exist to discuss genes. You can look at big ‘R’s and little ‘r’s and figure out if the result of your combined genes will result in a kid who is tall or short, has detached or attached earlobes, can curl their tongue or not and a whole lot of other things. It’s not fool-proof though. Sometimes you can look at things like eye color and be super confused how a kid turned out the way they did. Some things are just MORE COMPLICATED. With eye color- you can be a little disappointed, perhaps, but you don’t relate it to some concept inherent with your parenting skills or your child’s abilities- which is what sometimes happens when parents end up having a child whose sexuality ends up being something other than straight.
I know there are people who don’t believe being gay is genetic inherently and I will admit that there hasn’t been exclusive scientific evidence that pinpoints exactly when a person’s DNA (tell me what DNA stands for and I’ll entertain more of your counterargument later!!) predisposes them to be someone who is interested in another who is not exclusively an opposite sex. But what I will say is that– just because we can’t always pinpoint eye color the exact same way we can pinpoint earlobes… variations clearly happen anyway and our limited understanding doesn’t mean eliminate the truth of the matter- that there is some aspect of our biology that is at play in regards to sexuality.
So….Let’s keep talking Punnett Squares and make one to determine some possible outcomes….
Square #1: Gay + Gay = Possibly Gay? But also maybe not.
Square #2: Gay + Straight = Possibly Gay? But also maybe not.
Square #3: Straight + Straight = Possibly straight? But also maybe not.
Square #4: Religious/Conservative Straight + Religious/Conservative Straight = Possibly Straight? But also maybe not. Also- way more likely to kill themselves if they don’t end up straight.
That sounds brutal. I hate being brutal. People who know me know that I am the last person to make anybody uncomfortable if I can help it. But when CHILDREN are on the line, I CAN’T help it. I can’t help fighting and advocating for them.
But I read that bill and my two biggest ‘Take-Aways’ were these-
- We don’t want schools to be allowed to let children feel or express any feeling that is not congruent with their parent or parents’ feelings.
- If a child knows anything about non-heteronormative experiences prior to the age of 8/9, we need to shut that down- even if it means repressing children who identify as nonheteronormative or have experienced a life that doesn’t fall into hetero norms.
I can SEE where parents would want to have some input as to what their child is learning, but I have SO MANY questions, which I will enumerate because I love bullets (clearly):
- Where were you at parent teacher conferences? As a teacher, I always was careful to consider my students’ parents’ thoughts- I reprogrammed an entire Holiday concert so a Jehova’s Witness student could play….I never told my bass clarinetist that his dad thought clarinet wasn’t manly enough- I just talked up the bass clarinet and moved him to the bigger instrument (which was, for some reason, less offensive to the parent). Even when I didn’t agree or a parent’s beliefs didn’t align with mine, I always did my best to honor their wishes and input. Guess how many parents didn’t show up though and whose input I then didn’t get to consider? Most.
- Did you go to school for Education/Child Development? I have been TRAINED EXTENSIVELY to give your child the best education that I am capable of. I’m relegated to the confines of standards, resources, 50 minutes a day, and a classroom of 30….but I am trained to do a great job for ALL 30 of them …are you?
- What gives you the right to to ask me not to provide a comprehensive education or demonstration of human experience in a public school setting- where no one belief system is shared or touted? If you’d prefer that sort of education- there are schools that exist to cater to your wishes and needs. Is that not an option because you can’t afford it? I can see that being frustrating, but you can’t have a free, public, school and then also exert your will over the content of instruction- because it’s there to serve everybody. Lots of people can’t afford a private school…Poverty and financial constraints have a weird way of transcending lines of belief….so what gives your beliefs or experiences more validity than any other human’s? If you prefer an education that aligns with your moral beliefs, you should need to provide that outside of a publicly available option. I can’t and WON’T tell any child (even yours!) that their lived-experience is more or less valid…if you want that kind of specified education- shouldn’t you have to provide it?
Just to be clear- I don’t think any child should be forced into A CERTAIN way of thinking. Which is why I’m SUPER CAREFUL OF AFFIRMING EVERY OPTION AT ALL TIMES. BUT…if you’re going to try to push your beliefs into legislation that affects children other than your own, you should have to think about these things. You should HAVE to think about how you’re impacting every other family AND how you could be impacting your own child’s mental health and overall well-being.
I asked myself what my child would have to do in order for me not to love him to eternity and support him, regardless of my own beliefs. You know where the line is? Intentionally and consciously hurting other people….continuously and on purpose.
I literally don’t think there’s anything outside of that sentence that could stop my love or acceptance for him. He could work in any commonly-accepted low-level profession (which I won’t even provide examples of, because all of those people and jobs are contributing to society in an important way) or literally never work and just be a part of my home (would love it if my baby never left me) but…I will support and love and wish for his happiness, no matter what that looks like and I can’t understand parents who don’t want their children to be happy, simply because it’s different from their own version of happiness.
So. To wrap this all up— there are children who will be adversely affected by this legislation…and they don’t deserve that.
This bill- this legislation- is beyond my ability to change, but speaking against it is not. Speaking up, to let ALL kids, including ones younger than nine-years-old, know that they are loved and safe and cared about…that’s not beyond me. So I’ll keep doing that until I physically can’t anymore.
The kids who don’t need the extra support are going to be okay and I’m happy for and rooting for them too! But the kids who do need at least one person and don’t have that now, or won’t think that they do because of this bill, deserve to have people in the world who will speak up. They deserve to be loved and they deserve to be supported. So… if showing up and speaking up is all I can do…then I will. Loudly. 🌈