From the March-April 2022 issue of News & Letters
On Feb. 21 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared that providing gender-affirming medical care to minors is child abuse under state law. Doctors, nurses and teachers who don’t report even a suspicion of such care would face criminal charges.
On Feb. 24, the Florida House of Representatives passed the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill which would block teachers from talking about LGBTQ+ issues or people.
On Feb. 1 an Oklahoma senator introduced legislation allowing parents to sue educators who teach anything “in opposition to closely held religious beliefs of students.” Parents could demand the removal of any book from school shelves they believe contains LGBTQ+ content and sue teachers.
LAWS THREATEN ALL MARGINALIZED PEOPLE
Such laws threaten not just Queer kids. They can be directed against any marginalized group. They come from Republicans and conservative groups using the guise of “empowering parents” or “protecting kids.” Yet the Texas law prosecutes parents as “child abusers” if their child is reported as transgender.
The Florida and Oklahoma laws are directed against educators and put Queer kids and non-conservative teachers in the crosshairs. They persecute LGBTQ+ children and try to bury any information on LGBTQ+ people. It harkens back to laws enacted against evolution being taught in school and ones that ban books on the U.S.’s racist past.
The federal government’s response has been nonexistent. Congress has not passed the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. The silence from federal politicians on such laws has been deafening. It shows how governments are slow and soft in opposing actions of reactionaries.
What can be learned from all of this? No matter which politician is in power or what political party is dominant, they will do little to protect oppressed groups or benefit the lives of people in any significant way.
POLITICIANS RIFE WITH HYPOCRISY
An example of this general lack of care is the infrastructure bill. Its provisions have been whittled down to where they lack many of the significant benefits it had in its original form. Biden is increasing police funding and makes clear he would strike down any “anti-police” legislation although he and other Democrats talked about police reform, especially during the height of the George Floyd protests.
Action must be in the hands of everyday people. That can come in the form of protests, general strikes, school walkouts or any creative action on the part of working people. As crises strike the world in a multitude of different places and ways, there is no better time to take action or make clear one’s beliefs.