Friday, June 2, 2023

On Keeping Kids "Safe" From Pride

Student Trustee Kenzy Soror wrote an excellent, brief thread on the problem with parents keeping their children home because it's pride day or month:

"I take great concern with the decision of some families to 'keep' WRDSB students at home on June 1st. I hope that those who made this decision realize that LGBTQ+ students will still exist in schools on June 2nd and going forward. We should all realize how unfair it is for students to be left with the task of justifying their own families' choices to their peers - some of which who are inevitably feeling targeted by said choice. Students are not pawns to be kept or released in an effort to make a point."

It was followed by a bunch of comments that more or less say: 

"Your concern is valid, but their choice and right to keep kids home during prime month is also valid. Respect parents' right to say 'no' to minor children."

And one good comment reacting to the haters:

"Seriously? And what if their children actually turned out to be LGBTQ? Might actually be hiding that from their parents? This has become so wrong. So much progress undone by bigots."

Absolutely! Suggesting that it's reasonable to keep children away during pride month when being gay/bi/trans.. is celebrated is akin to suggesting it's reasonable to keep kids away during Black history month, when Black people throughout history are celebrated. It reeks of unfettered prejudices that some see as acceptable. A glance towards Florida should be enough for the rest of us to recognize this anti-pride position as absolutely terrifying! 

Then a whole ton o' crap. Here's a sample:

"Students are being used as pawns within the schools, and the school board is projecting opinions on kids in the exact same way you don't want parents to. You just agree with the school board. Take a second and observe everything objectively and you will see that."

I think by "projecting opinions" they mean teaching students that everyone has a right to live and learn irrespective of how they dress, what name they go by, or who they might love. Sure, we can argue that thinking we should allow human rights to be accessed by all humans is just my opinion, but it's one that was adopted by the UN and the Canadian Charter, so get with the program already!! 

I'm so blown away that people are actually arguing, with their real names and faces attached, that it's reasonable for parents to want to keep kids away from exposure to 2SLGBTQIA+'s existence, realities, and issues. 

Newsflash: YOU CAN'T MAKE KIDS GAY/TRANS by celebrating pride. BUT, you can help them accept who they are and who they love if you teach them about people who fought for their rights and others who are able to do great things with their lives -- or just live their lives -- because of those who came before. 

AND, you can potentially destroy a kid's life by trying to hide this from them and presenting it as shameful and wrong or only for adults, i.e. something to hide until they're adults and can move out of your bigoted home. 

I was watching interviews with Henry Winkler this morning, after finishing the brilliant final episode of Barry, and they flashed a picture of Fonzie with the dates of Happy Days beneath it. That show started airing in 1974 when I was nine, and I can't tell you how obsessed I was with Fonzie. And I was nine!! Even earlier, I had a thing for Elizabeth Montgomery, from Bewitched. And I told my mom that I just liked to watch her and didn't care about her annoying kid or the plot in general. Children have feelings of attraction long before they have sexual desire, and it's super handy if those feelings aren't forced to be bottled up. 

One commenter posted this:

Let's go through this list, shall we...

1. Teaching that some people are trans or gay and that's okay doesn't sexualize anyone. The problem here is that some people see attraction to others as entirely sexual. They miss that, for instance, some people have zero sexual desire yet still find themselves attracted to certain people. Romantic love and attraction can be entirely divorce from sexual desire. Check out The Girl with Two Dadsnot a single sex scene!!

2-4 - Schools don't do surgeries or provide medications. Kids who have the sense that they're a gender different than what their exterior gonads would suggest typically go through a litany of medical professionals before getting puberty blockers and then - typically not until they're over 16 - surgery. Again, telling people about the existence and acceptance of trans people will NOT turn them trans! 

5. Books about sex are not the same as pornography. Books depicting sexual abuse deep within a difficult and heartfelt story are also not pornography -- even if some warped monsters might get off on that. Seriously, I find it really creepy when people insist that a description of abuse is somehow pornographic to them.

6. Drag shows don't happen in schools. Sometimes people wear drag and read to kids, but that's not the same as the kind of show you might see in a bar. Don't conflate the two.

7. Contact sports organizations about this concern, not school boards, but if you think Caster Semenya shouldn't be allowed to compete with other women because she has an unfair advantage from her natural hormones and physical size, then Michael Phelps also had an unfair advantage over everyone for his "genetic differences."

8. Not the bathroom issue again!!!  If you don't want trans women out of the the women's bathroom, do you really want trans men IN there? 


ETA: The bathroom issue is so old it was in a Dykes to Watch Out For cartoon from 1995!

And from just one year ago:

ETA: This video from Some More News


lungta said...

Marie? ... really?
What does this even mean?
"8. Not the bathroom issue again!!! If you don't want trans women out of the the women's bathroom, do you really want trans men IN there?"
You are not usually willfully obtuse to the actual issues.
If every 1% of the student population got a month to "celebrate" you would need 100 months in a year.
You can like whatever you like, your attractions, but why do you insist I like what you like? It should be limited to an after school club at most.
None of this should show up in the first 20 attributes that children should ascribe to.
As it is it is the easy way of "celebrity" and "speciality" and "attention" for a child to just choose to deny their physical body. And those children do not do well outside the cocoon.

Marie Snyder said...

Trans men are men. Many of them look and sound like other men, and they would stand out if they were made to use the women's bathroom. I'm not sure what's confusing about that. If the issue you think I'm being obtuse to is around men pretending to be trans and dressing as women in order to sexually assault women in a bathroom, I just don't believe that's happening anywhere, nor would allowing trans women in the women's bathroom (which already happens) precipitate it. I imagine trans men and women are harassed in bathrooms far more often than women are being sexually assaulted, very specifically, by men posing as trans women as a newfangled sneaky way of getting access. And trans women in a men's bathroom is likely at the greatest risk. If this is about making sure all women are safe, then it makes more sense to work to increase the consequences around sexual harassment, abuse, and assault instead of focusing on the very rare possibility of a man disguising himself as a trans woman for the sole purpose of attacking women in bathrooms. It's like suggesting we have to eradicate bushes because a rapist might use one to hide behind. It will do nothing to reduce the incidents of sexual assault and, at the same time, it makes life increasingly difficult for trans women. It's a lose-lose proposition.

I agree about the celebrating everything thing, though. I actually don't love all the months and days, so many different coloured shirts to remember, BUT I do recognize the importance of them when open bigotry is growing. We need to quash it, and celebrating the accomplishments of people of a group that's the target of prejudice is one way to reduce it.

You don't have to like people of the same gender just because other people do, obviously, but we all do have to accept and allow people to live with the same rights and freedoms that have been granted to us. So if you can hold hands with someone of the opposite gender without ridicule, then teens should be able to hold hands with someone of the same gender without ridicule. Stopping that ridicule is what pride month is about. Learning about the accomplishments of so many people, from Alan Turing to Ben Barres to Laverne Cox, make it clear they are much more than just their sexual orientation or identity. Seeing what's going on in the states makes it just that much more important this year. If we don't stop prejudices, they can grow into acts of violence.

Lorne said...

"You don't have to like people of the same gender just because other people do, obviously, but we all do have to accept and allow people to live with the same rights and freedoms that have been granted to us."

I think that comment essentially encapsulates the whole idea around Pride Month, Marie. We are often given to rhetorical flourishes about the sanctity of democracy, but that eloquence often fails to take purchase in the real world when it comes to respecting the rights of those with different sexual orientation.

Democracy is not a buffet where we get to choose only what appeals to us.

Marie Snyder said...

Absolutely, Lorne. And we'll forever have to keep fighting to make sure we don't start sliding backwards!

Trailblazer said...

Twelve months ago few people knew or cared what transexuals were.
Then it became a US political issue and lemmings as that we are we took the bait.
We have lived for centuries with pantomime and burlesque with no fuss.
I long for those days , not of ignorace , but days of WGAF!!
The weird people have always been with us but others are just 'different' and should be allowed to live.
How we accommodate them has yet to be determined.
That said, men are men and women are women the term sex change is an impossibilty.
We must accept that some people have wishes to be of the other sex.
Most people have accepted that the gay community exsists even if they do not agree with it.
Transexuality is much much more difficult 'life style' !!! become mainstream when we consider that the basic body modifications now demanded were not available a decade or so ago.
At the end of the day I just wish that those with non hetrosexual preferences would just STFU and get on with their lives.
I have had good both gay and lesbian friends who never took their preferences to the masses ; they were never in your face about their lives and preferences.
Social media has given everyone that lives on """LIKES""" to push his or her's opinnions in everyones ; dare I say it FACE---BOOK.


Marie Snyder said...

It might feel like trans issues are new, but I added in a cartoon from 1995 to show how far back the washroom non-issue goes. Trans people have always been with us - like for thousands of years - but often kept quiet or isolated in order to keep safe. In Ontario, gender confirmation surgery was done in the 80s and 90s, but then was delisted under Harris in 1998. It took a decade to get it back, which is why it might feel like it's only been possible since 2008.

People are taking their "lifestyles" to the masses in order to be able to stop hiding - in order to freely live their lives. Pride started after the Stonewall Uprising, after police raided a gay bar one too many times in the 1960s. It celebrated taking a stand against discrimination.

I'm pretty weird in a lot of ways that people mainly just ignore, so I don't throw it in people's faces, and I just get on with my life. No problem! But people were being threatened with arrest or worse for just being who they are, so they got together to demand a stop to the violence. Pride is commemorated yearly to maintain that level of safety over the lives of anyone who might be discriminated against because of their sexual identity or orientation. This is a terrifying time for this community if some policies in the states percolate up here, like removing kids from their homes if parents support their transitioning or forced outing to parents even if it's known it will provoke abuse. It's an important time to have solidarity with people who otherwise could face a profound loss of basic rights.