Some People to Blame for the 'Don't Say Gay' Bill
Among them: rabid conservatives, the 'liberal' media, everyone who designed our political system, and Disney.
Some thoughts on the Florida legislature passing the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill:
If you need reminding, here is what the bill does, via NBC News: “The measure bans ‘classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity’ in kindergarten through third grade. It also prohibits such teaching ‘in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,’ which critics say could be interpreted to extend to all grade levels. Parents can sue school districts for alleged violations.” Gov. Ron DeSantis has vowed to sign it.
In choosing education as their battleground, Florida legislators are tapping into a rich, sordid history. From Anita Bryant to the Briggs Initiative to the infamous Section 28 in the UK, children and schools have long been used as a conduit for this kind of bigotry, and the notion that talking about anything other than heterosexuality is a threat to their innocence is one that seemingly cannot be killed off. These people just keep playing the same crappy hits over and over again.
It’s not an accident that so many of these measures use the same tools. The Florida law lets private individuals sue as part of its enforcement mechanism, just like the Texas abortion ban. The bill wraps itself in noxious bromides about the protection of children and the rights of parents, just like the Texas order that criminalizes being a parent of a trans child, or the wave of measures targeting anti-racist teaching in schools, or supposedly off-limits books in libraries. There is a formula, and it is proving successful.
We are living through a time of extreme, severe conservatism, one that is infecting basically every conceivable sphere of life. Legal abortion is about to become a thing of the past all over the country. Any threat to the centrality and the sanctity of the police has been crushed. Books are being banned. Voting is harder than ever. And the very existence of queer people, especially trans people, is under continual assault.
This has been fueled, in part, by the extreme, severe conservatism of our political system, which has encouraged the insanity on display everywhere you turn. The pattern is simple: GOP state legislatures rig the playing field for themselves, ensure that there is no real threat to their power, and then go to town. There is a virtual competition out there to see which states can be the quickest to roll the clock back on basic civil rights. If people complain, oh well! The Supreme Court is waiting to protect the nutjobs from harm. The Democrats have been clear about their inability to do any of the things that could counteract these patterns, except bleating that you should vote for them so that they can continue not to do anything. We’re fucked, is what I’m saying.
It’s also been unquestionably fueled by the poison of transphobia which has affected so much of our discourse and our politics, and which has been shamefully amplified by so much of the supposedly “liberal” media. It was always clear that the forces targeting trans people were not going to stop there—not that transphobes aren’t genuinely interested in eradicating trans people from the face of the earth, but that they have also been using their war as a way to kickstart a wider assault on all LGBTQ people. All of the elite outlets that have spent the last few years furrowing their brows about the supposed “complexities” that arise when you allow trans people to exist as human beings should be hanging their heads low right now (don’t worry, I’m not so naive as to expect this to actually happen.) This is what happens when you encourage this stuff—it festers, and it spreads, and then people become emboldened, and they start to go further and further and further, and here we are. Great job, everyone.
All in all, yesterday was a perfect day for J.K. Rowling to pop up and remind us that she is part of the brain-poisoned cult who think of nothing else every day but how trans people are scary zombies coming to destroy the planet. Thank god for Tinashe.
As ever, these direct attacks on the very existence of queer people do not seem to excite the cancel culture warriors who are supposedly saving us from tyranny. (Some of these cretins, I must point out, carry out their destructive missions on Substack, which is also the platform we now live on.) You know what’s got them wound up right now? That dumb New York Times op-ed from the college student who got a whole column (and a photoshoot!) to explain how terrible it was that people didn’t like some stuff she said in class. You tell me: which is a greater threat to civil liberties, college students arguing with each other or a state government banning teachers from mentioning the fact that gay people exist? It’s a tough one, I know.
A big no to whatever this is:
(Rafi thought Bradley Whitford was actually coming out, but no, he is just being a celebrity.)
Also, a big no to Disney, which has only kicked into gear against the Florida bill…after it passed. At least Luca was a gay movie, if you squinted a little and projected a lot! Heroes.
Sigh. Everything sucks. This is where I would often put in a line about how there’s hope, and of course there’s always hope, and change can happen, but whatever, everything still sucks. Living in a time of sweeping backlash to just about every good human instinct there is…it’s not fun. At least the planet is also dying.
Dear Bradley Whitford,
As always: Never Tweet.
Stephen Breyer's Ice Cream
Has anyone out there tried to elaborate on why this is happening? Sure, on one level you have the true believers, who believe this is about morality or innocence or something. But what's the level beneath the true believers? Who/what does it benefit to not teach that sexualities besides hetero exist?
Like, if conservatives are so keen on preventing abortion, I don't understand why they haven't opened up to the idea that there are sexualities other than hetero - I mean, get a bunch of high schoolers identifying as asexual or homosexual and you've got your abortion problem covered, right? Unless they actually don't care about preventing unwanted pregnancies, because unwanted pregnancies end up being very profitable for them. In fact the whole pain machine of not knowing there are options and thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with you is probably pretty profitable as well.