To Say Gay or Not to Say Gay

don't say gay

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at last week’s bill signing
Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP

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No matter what I write on this topic, I know I’m going to get roasted by someone over it.

Yes, I know. I should never author something political on this blog, but sometimes, I really feel social media misses the point. Everyone has an opinion, and sometimes those opinions don’t seem to take reality into consideration.

Take for instance, the Florida HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education bill which was recently signed into law. That link leads to literally what the bill states and it doesn’t actually say “don’t say gay”

Well, not exactly, but I’ll get to that.

Here’s a little bit more commentary.

Now as a parent and Grandpa, having read the bill, I really couldn’t see why people were objecting. But it seemed like everyone was complaining about the law including Disney, which has caused quite a dust up.

Then I heard the first credible objection to HR 1557. It was the idea that forbidding any mention of gay, bi, or trans parents at all in schools for kids in grades K-3 was still denying the existence of those parents, or for that matter, young children who might have…what do you call it at that age…a crush…on a same sex student.

Now from a more conservative perspective, Disney and many school teachers who support what I’ve heard called “LGBTQ Inclusion Education” have been cast as groomers and pedophiles, people who deliberately want to introduce children to same-sex sex in order to sexually abuse them in some fashion (no, this doesn’t “turn” children gay, but groomers are a real thing as in the example I’ve provided).

lgbtq ed

Image found on twitter

While it may be more like “some kids have two Moms and some kids have two Dads and that’s totally fine” from opponents of the bill, the flipside is that some parents want to have control or at least be informed if there are plans to offer that piece of information to their children ages five through eight. From an LGBTQ viewpoint, that revelation isn’t harmful and actually promotes greater acceptance. But if you are a family that is Evangelical Christian or has some other reason for wanting children not to be exposed to that information at such a young age, you’re talking about parental and religious rights. It’s not malicious, it’s probably not even bigoted in the traditional sense. It’s just wanting to have your rights as a parent and a person of faith respected above and beyond the “rights” of the state over your children’s lives.

Each side of the argument is “demonizing” the other, thinking the very worst of them, and as I see it, in most cases, both sides are misjudging each other. Of course, you can draw extreme examples of both points of view. Yes, some adults are sexual predators, and some people just outright hate and fear gay or trans people, but those are in the minority. Social media lets both of those minority voices sound a lot bigger than they really are.

Of course, Disney really is big and traditionally has been trusted by families for generations as producing family-friendly content, and being a safe space for children to visit. I think having Disney take a political or social stand at all, regardless of their position, feels kind of scary. We all want the mouse to just be the mouse.

I don’t remember anything about gays being taught formally or informally in any area of my own public school experience or that of my children. I had some sort of idea gay people existed when I was in Junior High, and a couple of my male high school teachers were rumored to be gay. But I graduated High School in the early 1970s which was a long time ago.

My wife and I, when our own children were in Junior High, met with the teacher who was going to give instruction in sexual education. She showed us her lesson plan and materials and we chose to allow our kids to go through that class.

But as parents, we were permitted to see the materials, speak to the teacher, and could have potentially opted our kids out of that class. Our rights were respected, plus our kids were of an appropriate age developmentally to absorb that information.

I realize that any anti-HB 1557 people aren’t advocating for teaching sexual information or techniques to five-year-olds. But for some parents, for right or for wrong, even the thought that a teacher may, without parental consent or even against the parents’ will, teach the whole “two Dads and two Moms” thing is objectionable.

Others might disagree, but how much social imperative or “force” is considered appropriate or necessary to override a parent’s right to control their children’s learning? When does the state, or a group that comprises approximately 3.8% of the U.S. population have more rights over children than Mom and Dad?

One argument is that parents could home school or enroll their children in a parochial school if they want that control, and yes, it’s an option. However, often both parents work outside the home making homeschooling unworkable. Parochial schools can be expensive and not everyone can afford to send their children to such an institution. Also, we all pay taxes which go into various public services including public schools. That means all parents have a stake in the public education systems and all parents should be respected.

I don’t know how to balance that against the apparent “need” for the LGBTQ community to be included in the education of children from ages 5 through 8. Of course, starting at age nine, according to the current law in Florida, such education would be permissible.

I don’t have the answers and this article isn’t meant to be topic-inclusive. I’m just laying things out as I see them.

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