Last week, California’s governor Jerry Brown signed The FAIR Education Act into law, a bill mandating the teaching of LGBT history in California schools. Rather than pretending that queer people are simply another sign of the impending apocalypse or a symptom of a sick modern society, children will be taught that we have existed all throughout America’s history. Predictably, this has prompted much tearful pearl-clutching from the Washington D.C.-based hate tank, the Traditional Values Coalition:
“We are talking about molesting the minds of young impressionable youth, as young as Kindergarten, with an agenda and message that is not age-appropriate and that is offensive to the values of a vast majority of California’s families.”
That sound you are hearing is every pooch in your neighborhood responding to the clear, shameless dog whistle embedded in the TVC’s statement. Queers! Molesting! Curriculum adjustments! One of the first squares I always fill in “Hateful Conservative Press Release Bingo” is the one devoted to child abuse references or to the claim that queers are more likely to abuse children. This perpetually debunked claim is almost always trotted out in national debates about providing queer-inclusive sex education. It is a disgusting lie that puts children in danger by preparing them to be wary of a mincing stereotype instead of real sexual predators, most of whom identify as heterosexuals. It is unclear at what age the Traditional Values Coalition would think mentioning that queer people exist would be appropriate, but my guess is their answer would be “never” and “shut up about it.”
Even though the law will not take effect until January, the TVC has gotten a jump start on predicting the dire consequences of SB 48:
“Gender roles would no longer just mean male and female. Lesbians and gays would be classified as ethnic groups just like Latinos, Asians, and Blacks; which is something the US Supreme Court has refused to do.”
Much like the US Supreme Court has refused to classify the 1974 Ford Pinto as an Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. Because that wouldn’t make a goddamn bit of sense. This statement completely ignores the existence of POC in the queer rights movement and is also a little bit late on calling the gender binary moribund. Every day gender warriors erase it a little bit more, teaching themselves and those in their communities that it is possible to live outside of an arbitrary binary.
I remember growing up, all the references to queers I heard from the media made it seem like queer people were a relatively new phenomenon, like airbags or unbelievable margarine. Imagine an entire generation of queer people who grow up feeling a connection to their history, who aren’t forced to invent their own communities or seek out their own histories but are instead born into a proud legacy of fierce, fabulous, ass-kicking queer heroes.
That might very well be revolutionary.