Governor DeSantis, Your Don’t Say Gay Bill is Disgusting and So are You
The Well Being of Children is Being Trumped Because You Want to be President
Photo by Gage Skidmore
There’s no reason ever, in any situation, for a teacher to “say gay” or get involved in a discussion about sexuality or gender identity - except for one. Get ready Florida, here it comes, and I shouldn’t have to tell your disgraceful governor this.
The kids say it.
So as an adult in an educational setting that means sometimes you’re going to have to address the discourse. Otherwise, you’re not really doing your job.
Let me start with an example in which I had to say absolutely nothing, and I was right to leave it alone. Among the school age group I was working with, a few 4th graders were having a conversation about music, and Michael Jackson’s name arose. Prompted for some reason, one of the boys piped up, “Oh, he was gay.”
My ears perked up and then retracted. The boy stated a fact as he believed it and applied no judgment to his comment. The conversation moved on, and we all lived happily ever after.
Of course, anyone who has spent more than eight seconds with children knows that very few comments are made without hanging judgement on someone or something. So from my experience working with elementary aged students, the word gay was usually used as a put down.
Now, the word was never directed in a way that targeted a kid who was perceived to be gay. Gay simply stood in for the typical words kids might use to take each other down a notch or two.
Therefore, by definition, adults are supposed to intervene, and finding myself in the situation more often than I cared to, I never welcomed the ambiguity of the situation. You see, if one child calls another stupid, the slur is clearly defined for the participants, and explaining the hurtful nature of such a comment is straightforward.
But when a third grader says “gay,” it’s unknowable what the word actually means to him or the kids in the vicinity. As a result, if I was to dispatch the moment in a thorough way, I’d have to cover a number of subjects.
Not only would I have to embark on a conversation about reproduction, biology and human sexuality, I’d have to include religion, politics, history, sociology and who knows how many other disciplines. Let me give a humorous anecdote on the scope of this momentous task, and how I side with parents who have concerns about teachers taking on this responsibility.
A four year old very innocently asked me if a boy could marry a boy. I told his mom later about the question, and she asked me what I said. “Bobby, I’m not qualified to answer that question,” I humorously conveyed my cryptic answer.
She loved it, and despite making light, I deeply respect that my point of view might not align with the way a parent wants to raise their children. But once again, what’s said by children is rarely innocent, and we can’t just zoom parents in when children need protecting.
Still, where the only restriction I have faced is my own reservations about usurping parental authority, the way forward took me a while to figure out. You would think the standard reply, “Well, that’s not a very nice thing to say,” should suffice.
It does not because you’ve just told a whole roomful of kids that being gay is a bad thing. So any gay kid (or adult) in earshot would feel pretty small.
I realized that and would stumble over my words. So initially I did not have an optimum answer. But I did get there. I’d say, "I don’t like how you’re putting Johnny down, and you’re making fun of gay people. That’s not ok either."
Of course, I doubt those words perfectly hit the mark either, and parents certainly should have a say in the way the issue is addressed. That means schools need to develop a curriculum and appropriate responses.
Even for Kindergartners? I rarely heard the word gay from kids that young, but I did hear it. The source was the older kids, and the utterances followed the same suit. And I’m completely leaving out the most important source : The kid who has same sexed parents.
I myself cannot bear witness. But I don’t have to see it to know kids are not kind, and they will not hesitate to completely eviscerate a child who has two dads.
So are we just supposed to let that happen Governor DeSantis? I guess so because you want to be President, and while many voters might be persuaded if they witnessed a school day like I have, you are also pandering to a very depraved element of our society. And that makes you just as disgusting as them.