The Outrageous and the Unrighteous
This past November, CAMP Rehoboth hosted a play titled Tiny Beautiful Things. One of the characters had a penchant for saying “What the f**k!” more than a few times. Anyone in the audience with a low tolerance for foul language would have had to endure a long string of WTFs.
Some Letters readers may find themselves emulating this character. Hearing what is taking place in legislatures across the country will likely have some saying en masse, “What the f**k!” Much of this legislation could be dismissed as being silly and out of touch. The problem with that response, however, is that lives are being changed—and even threatened. It might be more tolerable if this legislation was designed to put the LGBTQ community back in the closet (not really). However, the goal of these folks, and the far-right organizations that support them, is to put people in jail, or worse.
The best place to start our review is in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis has gone to great lengths in the three years of his first term to alienate as many groups of folks as possible. He has institutionalized the art of oppression of his own constituents.
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill prohibits public school teachers K-3rd grade from having conversations with their students about sexual orientation or gender identity. The bill has passed through the legislature and the Governor is expected to sign it. The bill itself is titled the “Parental Rights in Education Bill.” At a recent press conference, DeSantis stated, “In the state of Florida, we are not going to allow them to inject transgenderism into kindergarten. First graders shouldn’t have woke gender ideology in their curriculum. And that’s what we’re standing for.”
Anti-discriminatory legislation always seems to be couched in pseudo-affirming language. After all, who could be against parental rights in our education system? In this case, parental rights is tantamount to “Don’t Say Gay.” Florida is also considering a new bill that would provide criminal penalties to health care practitioners who engage in medical procedures for transgender youth.
Heading west to Texas, we find a quagmire of anti-LGBTQ bills signed by Governor Greg Abbott. The new law that has gotten the most attention prohibits parents of transgender children from providing the medical and emotional care they need to survive. But this law goes even further and charges these parents with child abuse. State Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a legal opinion in February that gender-affirming surgical procedures and treatments for children, including puberty-blocking drugs, amount to child abuse.
Following the release of this legal opinion, Governor Abbott ordered the Department of Family and Protective Services “to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation of any reported instances of these abusive procedures in the State of Texas.” Ironically, an employee of that same agency was fired for raising her transgender child and exercising these same parental actions.
One of the more popular anti-LGBTQ laws passed by numerous conservative legislatures across the country prohibits transgender youth from participating in sports activities if their identified gender does not match the gender recorded on their birth certificates. There are efforts by these same elected persons to permit anti-LGBTQ action by allowing people to claim a “religious exemption” to equality mandates. Conservative state legislatures are emulating each others’ bills and attempting to achieve the “Most Restrictive State” Award.
John Pavlovitz is a progressive pastor who maintains a blog and has written several books. His focus in these is to hold the religious right accountable to the moral standards set by Jesus himself. He calls out the hypocrisy that is rampant in our politics and our churches today. Pavlovitz condemns those who are outrageous and unrighteous.
He writes, “Republican attacks on LGBTQ people in Texas and Florida are legislated, legalized brutality that simply cannot be allowed by decent and empathetic adults who respect science, treasure diversity, and believe that every child deserves to be fully seen.” Elsewhere he states, “We need to ‘say gay’ because naming people makes them visible and everyone deserves that honor. Children need to know that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-conforming, non-binary people exist and that they are deserving of that existence.”
The momentum of the religious and political right is gathering steam. Emboldened by a decidedly conservative Supreme Court, many state legislators and governors are passing laws that are contrary to our Constitution. We all need to stay vigilant in the fight for equality and acceptance, in order to overcome the outrageous and the unrighteous.
As George Takei tweeted, “The more you try to stop gay from happening, the more beautifully gay the world will become. It’s right there, written in glitter in Section 1 of the Rainbow Rules, Liza edition. You’d know that if you followed the Gay Agenda at all.” ▼
David Garrett, a CAMP Rehoboth Board member, is a straight advocate for equality and inclusion. He is also the proud father of an adult trans daughter. Email David Garrett at firstname.lastname@example.org.