We’re Going Back In Time: The anti-LGBTQ+ bills keep coming

A+photo+of+a+rainbow+pride+flag%2C+waving+in+the+wind.

A photo of a rainbow pride flag, waving in the wind.

Lee Krebs, Opinion Editor

It’s been a pleasant March here at West. The weather is beautiful, and for our LGBTQ+ readers, we’re officially halfway to pride month. Unfortunately, with America’s current attitude regarding LGBTQ+ folks, it might not be a safe one.
For anyone who isn’t aware, a bill has been passed in Florida. This bill, officially titled the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, was nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as it prevents schools from talking about “sexual orientation and gender identity” in elementary schools without parental consent. Many people have tried to pass this bill off as stopping discussion of things that are not considered “age or developmentally appropriate” for students. My confusion stems from what these senators think teachers are showing kids. The way that this is phrased makes it seem as though the teachers are showing students things like intercourse or intense violence, which isn’t true. What this bill- being targeted at elementary schools- is really targeting is story books portraying gay couples, or books about children being transgender. It targets the history books that talk about the early LGBTQ+ movements. It targets the students who grew up thinking they were alone.
You’re reading this, and you might be thinking, “they’re kids, they’ll grow up to learn better eventually.” The truth is that being shown you aren’t alone when you’re young is extremely important, and being completely sheltered from these topics at a young age can be really damaging for LGBTQ+ youth- a group that already faces a disproportionate amount of bullying and violence compared to their cisgender and straight peers. Not only does preventing this discussion make LGBTQ+ youth feel ostracized, it reinforces to non-LGBTQ+ students that their peers are “other;” they are different in the bad way, a way teachers aren’t allowed to talk about.
This isn’t the only anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment to be put into place recently. Currently in Alabama, there is potential for a bill which would criminalize medical transition of anyone under 19, even with parental consent. It’s classified as a class C felony and can land the doctor prescribing such treatment 10 years in prison, or a $15,000 fine. The bill states that the medical transition is “poorly studied” and states that the transition has many harmful effects on the body, which is simply not true, as has been proven several times by doctors and by the very people going through said transition. These people are often perfectly healthy, as the surgeries and hormone replacement itself requires you to be in a good state of health. State Representative Wes Allen had gone on to say that these transgender children could be “helped” with conversion therapy, another extremely harmful thing. Similar bills have been attempted to be passed in Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Mississippi, South Dakota and Tennessee. While this bill has not spread to North Carolina, it isn’t far-fetched to think that we could have trouble with it in the future, given our rocky history with transgender folks and bathrooms.
In Ohio, there have been laws proposed which would force teachers and doctors to “out” transgender students to their parents. One such bill states that if any student is showing signs of gender dysphoria or if they “demonstrate a desire to be treated in a manner opposite of the child’s biological sex,” they should be outed immediately. I shouldn’t need to explain that this can be extremely dangerous for a child. So many transgender children grow up with unsupportive parents, and the only respite they can get is at school. If a child were to be forcefully outed to their unsupportive parents, that could lead to the child being abused or even kicked out of their homes. There are around 2.8 million American youths facing homelessness, and approximately 40% of those children are LGBTQ+. If this bill were to pass, those rates could easily skyrocket. Certain parents have also raised concerns about the bill being sexist, some asking, “who gets to decide which gender is allowed to do what?”
The sheer amount of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in the country now is not only shocking, it’s utterly disgusting. The gay and transgender communities have fought for decades now to simply exist as we would like to, to be able to walk down the street without fear of being harmed. In 2004, the first gay marriage was officiated in California, but it wasn’t legalized across the country until 2015. That was only seven years ago. Since that law was passed, there has been bill after bill sent onto the Senate floor with the intention of shoving us down into the dirt as far as we can go. These bills are not a matter of protecting children, they are a matter of censorship and borderline eradication. When you would rather send a child into years of conversion therapy rather than just letting them wear what they want, you are the problem.