LGBTQ Content Bans Offer Shelter for Fragile Conservatives

Creep of the Week: Representative Bruce Griffey

Representative Bruce Griffey

Remember when Donald Trump won the 2016 election and his supporters called Hillary Clinton voters sore losers for their outrage and disgust? And then, when Trump lost the 2020 election his supporters threw a deadly temper tantrum, storming the U.S. Capitol?

And how Trump supporters called Democrats “snowflakes” for being upset by Trump’s open hostility to people of color and women, but are now demanding we stop teaching about slavery in schools because it hurts white kids’ feelings?

How about when Hillary Clinton’s emails were treated like the biggest scandal in history (they weren’t) by Trump and the mainstream media (shame on them forever for that) and now we’ve found out that Trump was basically using official documents as toilet paper?

Or how then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a Supreme Court nominee by President Barack Obama claiming it was too close to the 2016 election, but fast tracked Trump’s nominee Amy Coney Barrett even closer to the 2020 election?

I don’t know, but I’m kind of seeing a pattern here. Like, maybe these people are not operating in good faith.

So much performative outrage, so little time.

LGBTQ+ people are always a favorite punching bag in the so-called “culture wars” (which, I would like to point out, only one side is actually fighting. The anti-LGBTQ+ right is waging war on equality while LGBTQ+ people are not waging war against Christians, no matter how much Christians cry about being oppressed). So the continued push against LGBTQ+ people in schools should come as no surprise.

And yet, somehow it does. Or, not surprise, maybe, but dismay? It feels really awful to know that there are those who think that LGBTQ+ people pose a bigger threat to their children than, say, guns or COVID, two things that just don’t seem to matter much to the anti-LGBTQ+ right. 

There’s a bill in Florida that would ban discussion of LGBTQ+ people or issues in the classroom and forcing school staff to out kids to their parents. And now there’s one in Tennessee. State Rep. Bruce Griffey has put forth legislation to make it illegal to “promote, normalize, support or address LGBT issues or lifestyle.” According to Advocate, such legislation has been proposed before and failed. Griffey first introduced his bill last year. 

His rationale? Public schools won’t teach about Christianity, so they shouldn’t teach about LGBTQ+ issues, either. 

“The State of Tennessee is not allowed to teach my daughters Christian values that I think are important and they should learn, so I teach those at home,” Griffey tells the AP. “So, if those are not part of the school curriculum, I don’t see how LGBTQ+ and other issues and social lifestyles should be part of the curriculum.”

It’s a simple matter of fairness, right? Except that LGBTQ+ is not a religion. Who wants to tell him?

I’m kidding. As if Griffey is open to a rational conversation on this topic or any other. This is a guy who called his colleagues “medical Nazis” for their support of vaccine mandates. So, yeah. 

All progress faces backlash. And the pendulum between progressive and conservative swings back and forth, for better or worse. But we’ve swung so far to the right that the entire Republican Party supports overthrowing the government. So long as they get to be in power. 

This isn’t normal.

In an email to Advocate, Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project writes, “The 2022 legislative session has brought the most discriminatory bills ever.”

And that’s saying something. Tennessee isn’t exactly known as a place that values LGBTQ+ liberation and acceptance, certainly not at the legislative level.

“Attacks on gender-affirming care, trans athletes, and LGBTQ+ materials in schools are themes that connect this year’s bills to previous sessions,” Sanders continues. “We also face new attacks on student pronouns with a bill allowing school personnel to disregard them, which is nothing short of state-sanctioned bullying. Given the number of bills that passed last year, we have to treat them all as if they could advance.” In other words, we can’t just hope or assume that bills like this, no matter where they crop up, could very likely become law. In some places they already have. Elect people who recognize your humanity, damn it.

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living life with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter.