Right-wing radicals love to rail against “identity politics” while at the same time asserting that the United States is a white, Christian nation. As if being white or Christian or a white Christian is not an identity. To them, identity politics is when anyone who isn’t white, heterosexual, cisgender, male, and Christian says they don’t want to be marginalized and claim their space in the rooms where decisions are made.
After all, cisgender white Christians have been doing it since the moment this country was founded. (And, no, I’m not saying that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. The so-called founding fathers, despite their many serious flaws, got the separation of church and state part right.) But as more of the country becomes more and more diverse, the white Christian folks are freaking out.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with being white, Christian, cisgender, male, or any combination of those identities. But there is something wrong when you believe those identities make you superior and give you power over others, dismissing concerns about police violence against Black people, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, or reproductive freedom as “identity politics.”
But that’s what we’re seeing play out in today’s Republican Party. It’s a party of grievance and entitlement and, honestly, it’s pretty gross. And petty.
An example: Self-described “advocate for students, parents, taxpayers, teachers, and 1A” Shawn McBreairty takes issue with teachers describing their classrooms as a “family,” urging parents to pull their kids from public school now.
On Aug. 29 McBreairty wrote on Twitter about a kindergarten teacher in Maine, who posted a photo of her in her classroom. In the photo, the words “We put the KIND in KINDergarten!” hang above the whiteboard at the front of the class, right over the ABCs. McBreairty has added a red arrow pointing to the word “kind.” There is also a bulletin board that says something about class being a family. And another red arrow.
McBreairty writes, “[K]indergarten open house, provides parents a look at the indoctrination their kids are facing by teacher [name redacted]. Her class is not a family, it’s not about being kind, it’s about colors and ABC’s. Parents are the family. Pull your kids now.”
I redacted the teacher’s name because, as one Twitter user noted, teachers don’t get paid enough to deal with this kind of shit.
Anyway, yes, what you are reading is a grown man throwing a fit on Twitter because he doesn’t want children to learn how to be kind. In kindergarten. He also thinks referring to the classroom as a family is “indoctrination.” On his Twitter feed, he rants about teachers having LGBTQ+ inclusive books (which he calls child porn) in their classroom libraries, says “safe spaces” in schools create weak students who can’t think for themselves and calls for defunding teachers unions.
So, like, he really doesn’t like public schools. Thinks everyone should pull their kids out and homeschool. I can’t help but think back to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when kids were home and parents were tearing their hair out. Sounds like a non-starter to me. Especially since most parents don’t hate public schools or view them as government indoctrination centers.
Which is why school board elections are so important. Chances are, wherever you live there’s a school board election in November. Across the country, anti-public education extremists are running for those seats. Their goal is to stop teaching about racism and erase LGBTQ+ students and people. They are not interested in supporting the educators who spend hours and hours with your kid. They’ve made clear they don’t want your kid’s teacher to form any kind of bond with them, lest that threaten their narrow definition of family.
If you live in reality, you might not be paying super close attention to who is running for school board. Let’s face it, life is busy, and it’s not like school board candidates can afford big advertising blitzes and TV commercials. But I really can’t stress how important who sits on your school board is.
The school board hires the school superintendent, who then hires everybody else. You don’t want unhinged people choosing the school district’s boss. Especially if you value having teachers who acknowledge LGBTQ+ students and history. Especially if you want your children to learn actual history rather than history class being reduced to a bald eagle clutching a bible in its talons flying across a waving American flag gif.
So here’s your homework: Find out who is running for school board. Find out what they believe and what they want to do. And then volunteer to help the ones who share your values get elected.
Otherwise, you’re going to have folks who think teaching kindness to kindergartners is indoctrinating them. Honestly, if kids were going to be indoctrinated with anything, I can’t think of anything better than kindness.