So you’ve heard about Florida’s solution to queer people, right? It’s pretty much the story of my childhood: If we don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. In 2022 (yes, this is an old story), Florida Man Ron DeSantis helped enacted the “Don’t Say Gay (or Trans)” legislation, which basically means that teachers can’t “instruct” on sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools, K – 12. Because they were doing so much of that already.
Never mind that age-appropriate discussions of issues usually helps disseminate information and builds critical thinking skills. If you live in Florida, I guess, you probably don’t need them.
Never mind that teachers – and I know this is going to sound crazy, but hear me out – are a pretty smart, dedicated group that don’t usually hand out pornography to kindergartners and have to do these things called LESSON PLANS where they PLAN THE LESSONS they are going to teach.
Never mind that said teachers are already under assault for parents because (1) they closed the schools during COVID (not their decision); (2) they DIDN’T closed the schools during COVID (also not their decision); (3) they should be carrying guns (still not their decision); and (4) they didn’t give their stupid brat an A++ on everything piece of shit homework assignment and test they did this year (their decision, yes, and almost certainly eminently defensible).
And so, the people who may be in at least as good a position to provide intelligent and factual information on these topics (sexual orientation and gender identity) have now been told they can’t whilst the wider citizenry of the Sunshine State – which elected this Bo Honk in the first place, won’t.
Because the best way to get rid of something that makes you wildly uncomfortable is to NOT TALK ABOUT IT, EVER. Ask any therapist. They will tell you that this is the best course of action for DEALING WITH TROUBLING THOUGHTS. It’s also a good way to get an ulcer. Some people call it the WASP Heart Attack: Stuff your feelings deep, deep, way deep down, never talk about or acknowledge, them, and, at about age 82 or so, your body just suddenly explodes one night while you’re watching Fox News. This phenomenon has a Medicare diagnosis and everything.
Now, if you’ve been to college – or even if you’ve completed the fourth grade, say – you might think, “Wendy, pretending something doesn’t exist because you don’t talk about it seems sort of infantile.” Well, you’re right. It belongs somewhere with the Flat Earth theory and “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me.” You know. Like people who hadn’t yet circumnavigated the world, or a toddler. Ron DeSantis is counting on his base being about that sophisticated, and no more, and you know what? He isn’t wrong.
Still, there is still such a thing as NUMBERS. They’re a little different from SCIENCE, but they fall within the same STEM penumbra, and NUMBERS are part of MATH, which some people (including 1970’s Barbie) find to be “hard.” But the MATH I’m about to discuss ISN’T hard. Even Florida Men like Ron should be able follow.
Ron thinks that if school children hear about sexual orientation or gender identity, they will automatically turn gay or trans, which we know he doesn’t want. Thus – and here’s some logic for you – Ron must believe that TALKING about being gay or trans, or LISTENING to people talk about being gay or trans, MUST CAUSE PEOPLE TO BECOME GAY OR TRANS, whether they want to or not! Otherwise, talking and listening about these topics wouldn’t be so dangerous.
(It’s possible, of course, that Ron’s afraid that talking about being gay or trans would help people understand that it’s no big deal, and you could just treat gay and trans people like everyone else, so that you DIDN’T have to talk about it in school, and it could just be something like, “oh, he has brown hair and she’s really tall,” which you might think to yourself as part of your interior monologue, along with, “gee, a donut would taste really good right now,” or, “I really love my new jammies because they are soft and I feel so cozy when I wear them. Also, I would like to visit Nepal some day.”)
So, by enacting “Don’t Say Gay (or Trans),” Ron is trying to PREVENT PEOPLE FROM BECOMING GAY OR TRANS AGAINST THEIR WILL. You know, when you look at it THAT way, you can see that he’s really trying to do a good thing.
People come into this world pretty much knowing if they are gay or trans, or if they aren’t. Everybody I know who is gay or trans (and I know a fair number of people who are) have very generously shared their stories with me, and they have told me, without exception, that their awareness of their authentic selves dates back to their earliest memories. Stated differently, you don’t just “become gay,” or decide that suddenly, you identify as a different gender, because you listen to other people talking about it.
You know how I know this? Well, Gay children are usually raised by straight people. They spend huge quantities of time around straight people (parents, siblings, friends, relatives, teachers, classmates, etc.) They watch television all the time. They read books. And up until VERY recently, anytime you saw people in love on television or in a movie or read about it in a book, they were all straight. For their entire lives, that’s all gay kids saw.
You know what?
THEY STILL TURNED OUT GAY. Pretty much everyone they ever knew or spent time with them only EVER talked about being straight FOR YEARS and, STILL…they TURNED OUT GAY.
And if you still don’t believe me, and you think that kids wake up one morning and decide, “I want to be a girl from now on,” or, “I’m tired of being straight. Let’s see what being gay is like!” as though they’ve decided to try out for the spring musical instead of Mathletes, consider for just a moment the reality of being a member of the LGBTQ community in 2023:
- A lot of people think you’re a godless sinner, possessed by the devil, going to hell, and unworthy of love.
- Some of you will be disowned by otherwise loving parents, cut off financially, thrown out of the family home.
- If you’re trans, you are 4 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime.
- Some businesses may refuse to take your money because they don’t approve of you
- Your right to marry your partner, which only became legal 10 years ago, could be snatched away by a bunch of religious zealots on the Supreme Court
- Some people might not want you to babysit – you know, because you’re a pedophile.
There has probably never been a better time to be gay or trans in America, and still, this is what you can expect if you have the courage to live authentically as a gay or trans person in 2023. So, no, I don’t think people are trying on gay or trans to see if it’s “fun,” Ron. In so many ways, I have a feeling it’s really, really, not.
It’s exhausting that we have to still be having this conversation in 2023. It’s sad that the people of Florida elected someone who thinks he can end gayness by telling people not to talk about. If that logic worked, then maybe we could pay the people in Florida to stop saying “Ron DeSantis,” and then he, too, would disappear.