Child abuse prevention month ended on March 31. In the Florida Legislature, every day is child abuse day. Not prevention. Perpetration, with almost every Republican legislator institutionalizing a system of predation that makes clergymen’s unzipped prowls seem monastic in comparison.
The frocked committed their crimes in hiding. The Vatican has been trying to atone. Florida’s legislators are out and proud. They’re giving naked discrimination, predation and violence the cover of law. Welcome to the Sunshine State’s Sharia laws. Few sessions have provided the legal framework for as much state-sponsored and citizen-empowered terrorism against children as this one. You’d have to go back to the Jim Crow era’s systematic dehumanization of blacks for anything comparable. Now it’s open season on LGBTQ kids. Let us count the ways.
HB1069 expands the “Don’t Say Gay” law approved last year to all grades through middle school, forbids the use of Safe Space stickers or LGBTQ flags (congratulations, Ms. Christy Chong), and forbids recognition of LGBTQ+ History Month in June. Black History Month is still OK, as long as you only teach the yes-massa version. School staff and students are forbidden from using pronouns that conflict with a child’s birth sex. The Department of Education has the authority to broaden the prohibition through 12th grade without legislation. Last week, it did so.
Recall how in 2019 a Matanzas High School chorus teacher refused to refer to a trans student by his chosen name? The teacher was seen as callous or insensitive at the time. The case led to the student’s transfer and his parents’ (successful) two-year campaign to add gender protection in the district’s anti-discrimination policy. Now that teacher or the district would be violating the law if they were to accommodate the student’s chosen pronouns.
Those who criticize us fake newscrafters for using terms like “don’t say gay” are right in one respect. The phrase is misleading. It’s too gentle, too Birkenstock. This is not just about words. It’s the denial and erasure of people’s identities down to their most private core. It is the method of genocide.
We have precedent–not just in slavery times and Jim Crow: Florida law ostensibly makes it a requirement to teach Holocaust history (ostensibly, because the same legislators and our governor are no less rabid anti-Semites for it, as their Soros-coded vileness reminds us almost daily). In this regard the Florida curriculum might as well be written by a cherry-picking Josef Goebbels. Students will not be taught that before he took on Jews on his quest for an “Aryan master race,” Hitler criminalized all homosexual organizations, or that the ashes of gays and lesbians, not just Jews, gypsies and political prisoners, dusted the countryside around Auschwitz and Dachau.
HB 1521 and SB 1674 would ban non-binary people from using the bathroom of their choice, if it doesn’t align with their birth sex. We went through this in 2015. The bills failed then, because not all lawmakers substituted colon polyps for their synapses. But here we are again, with the same fabrications about trans people making bathrooms dangerous for your little boys and girls.
It is, in fact, the reverse. Trans are already hugely more victimized by sexual crimes than any other group. “One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives,” the U.S. Justice Department reports. “Some reports estimate that transgender survivors may experience rates of sexual assault up to 66 percent, often coupled with physical assaults or abuse. This indicates that the majority of transgender individuals are living with the aftermath of trauma and the fear of possible repeat victimization.” Call it an exaggeration if you must. It would still be appalling if the numbers were half as dire.
That’s before accounting for the consequences of these transgender-ban bills. There is no link between trans bathroom use and crime any different from the prevalent predation of heterosexuals, who don’t usually RSVP to assault anyone, anywhere. Nor would they absurdly put themselves through the hassle of passing off as trans just to enter an opposite-sex bathroom they can enter now, and have been violating for centuries, to attack. I’m sure you can find transgender predators. It’s basic math. But they can’t compete with heteros’ violence.
There is documented evidence that bans increase the incidence of sexual assault against trans teens–by 36 percent, according to a Harvard study. Put simply: Florida lawmakers who vote for these bills are not keeping the “demons” and “mutants” out, as Volusia County’s Rep. Webster Barnaby put it last week. They are the enablers of violence and crime. They are enablers of child abuse. And they’re turning the rest of us into the executioners.
The LGBTQ-erasure bill and the bathroom bill turn teachers and other school personnel, including counselors, into mandatory collaborators of state spying and denunciation of LGBTQ children or of transgressors of the legalized persecution: teachers must also denounce other teachers or administrators who don’t enforce Sharia. This is what our governor calls the Free State of Florida. The former East German name for it is more accurate: Stasi.
HB1421 bans health insurance companies from covering gender-affirming care for minors and prohibits “all healthcare practitioners, except Florida-licensed physicians or a physician employed by the Federal Government, from providing gender clinical interventions to adults,” according to a legislative analysis. As with abortion, which Florida now bans after six weeks, lawmakers believe they have a right to your body, not just to that of your child. So much for parental rights when they don’t fit the mullahs’ agenda.
There’s plenty of room for debate on gender dysphoria, just as there is on transgender athletes’ participation in competitive sports. Deep research is lacking in both and findings are evolving. Reasonable controls based in science and accommodations based in fairness can and must be the starting point of any regulations. We’ve barely reached that point. Sledge-hammer legislation, like DeSantis’s signature last year on a ban on all transgender girls playing on school teams or his coming signature on HB1421, will cause more segregation and cruelty than address either matter humanely.
But crafting fair and humane solutions to these dilemmas has never been the GOP’s intention. The legislative onslaught has barely got to do with transgender people or the alleged protection of children. The party couldn’t care less about either. (See above.) This is all part of a national strategy, honed with Florida’s always special hate sauce, to appeal to the right-wing base and whip up votes in a vacuum of governance and legislative accomplishments that don’t turn back the clock to the 1950s.
Demonizing gays had once been a potent turnout machine. It was key to George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, when Karl Rove lured out the pitchfork voters by stuffing 11 states’ ballots with anti-marriage-equality initiatives. Citizens indifferent to Bush’s crimes against humanity in Iraq and Afghanistan could at least get excited about playing Taliban at home. The initiatives passed in all 11 states, including Ohio, which made the difference in Bush’s electoral-vote margin. He couldn’t win on fear alone. Loathing clinched it.
Courts then ruined it all by wedding the 14th Amendment to marriage equality, culminating in the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage in 2015. Crushed and depressed, Republicans needed a new demon. “We knew we needed to find an issue that the candidates were comfortable talking about,” said Terry Schilling, the president of American Principles Project, a social conservative advocacy group, told The New York Times last Sunday. “And we threw everything at the wall.”
Lynching transgender rights stuck. Like the parable of the seeds, the rage grew best in Florida, land of DeSantis, Anita Bryant and moms for bigotry. We modeled Stand Your Ground for the rest of the country in 2005. We modeled union-busting a decade later. Now we’re modeling hetero supremacy. So here we are. Bathroom bans, book bans, drag show bans, pronoun bans, care bans, abortion bans, existence bans. All part of the same arsenal of sanctimony.
How can it possibly affect my neighbor’s life if my child borrows All Boys Aren’t Blue from the school library or chooses to go by the pronouns of his choice? It won’t, anymore than my neighbor masturbating to Tucker Carlson porn every night will make a difference in your life or mine. But in politics, there’s no business like schadenfreude business: Just as the blood of children from school shootings is liquid gold to the NRA and gun manufacturers, gang-banging trans rights is solid gold for Republicans scaling their wins to the misfortunes of others. Easier still when it’s against defenseless children whose parents you’ve won over as collaborators.
In Florida, abusing children is no longer just permissive, as has always been the case with the state’s corporal brutality allowance. If the child has the perversity to defy provisions in the bills outlined above, abuse is now a requirement. It’s not quite the orchestrated collapsing of walls on homos in Taliban stadiums filled with cheering sadists. Ours is a more pernicious, more systematic mandate that makes any of us lucky enough to be in the protected class of white hetero Christians free to marginalize, to demean, to demonize. Thanks to our god-fearing legislators and governor, the entire Free State of Florida is our stadium.
Onward, Christian Floridians.