“I can see by your grin
That you’re trembling within
It’s all over town, cheer down.” — George Harrison
Thinking on certain issues logically evolves over time. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” was ushered in at the very beginning of the Bill Clinton presidency. It was seen as a huge step forward in military circles. It was acknowledgment that gay and lesbian people exist and were likely in the military. Instead of a witch hunt to ferret them out, we would just allow them to exist as long as they weren’t in everyone’s face about it.
It served its usefulness and ceased to be policy in 2011. After awhile, it just becomes painful for people to shut off a portion of themselves for their own self-preservation. In order to prove that the world is regressing, some prominent right wing politicians are aiming to bring that back again.
Of course, no one calls it that. We use fancy names for it like “Parental Rights in Education” bill. Unfortunately, the scourge is spreading. Now, nearly half of the states in the country are considering the same bill. I’m sure no one is surprised that Texas is one of those states. I’m sure no one is surprised who is behind that effort.
In order to get the full picture of this we should return to the original name that the bill was given. What exactly do parents want? Well, it’s hard to tell based on the results of the most recent elections. Generally speaking, the numbers aren’t much better in most school board elections. So, it is fair to ask what parents actually want in education.
While LGTBQ+ issues run the gamut, the issue of same sex marriage probably sits near the core of everything. If we were to use that as a barometer of attitudes towards gay and lesbian people in general, it would seem that most parents would actually be okay with it. According to the poll linked above, 61 percent of those polled in 2019 were in favor of same sex marriage while 30 percent were against it.
It certainly is true that being in favor of same sex marriage is not necessarily the same as supporting acknowledging LGTBQ+ issues in the classroom. However, there usually is a huge difference between what has been taught in the classroom and what people seem to think was being taught in the classroom. Most of the time it is a simple acknowledgment of who teachers are. I certainly don’t know anyone that has pushed a gay or lesbian lifestyle on students. They may or may not have acknowledged who they were by simply acknowledging the presence of a same sex partner.
Kids aren’t idiots. In fact, they are probably more in tuned to this than most adults are. By allowing teachers to acknowledge who they are, it encourages kids to be proud of who they are. As you might suspect, teenagers that are members of the LGTBQ+ community are more susceptible to suicide or thinking about suicide than their heterosexual peers.
As we watched a clip on the new laws (particularly the one likely coming in Texas) my wife piped up and asked a perfectly reasonable question. “I’m a parent. What about what I want?” That has been the problem with school boards for time and memorial. A majority of parents aren’t crazy. A majority of parents aren’t bigoted. A majority of parents just want their kids to be happy and healthy. A majority of parents don’t vote in school board elections. That’s usually reserved for zealots and busy bodies. So, now we force Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones back in the closet and with them all of the teens that were hoping to come out.