Smirking in the Boys Room: Why Tonight’s Orange County School Board Meeting Should Bother You.
Pretty sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we decided it might be a good idea to show up at tonight’s controversial meeting of the Orange County Public Schools board of wisdom. These painful things happen with alarming regularity: Smoke signals are sent to fidgety folks clinging to Bibles and hypothetical whatnots that justify hatred in the most oblique and indefensible ways; miserable trolls open their mouths and utter justifications for the tread of their shoes holding on to the dirt of the past because, you know, GAY is just one variable too far; the collective conscience of thinking beings seizes and stirs at the notion that we’re even sharing air with these drummed up pronouncements of concern; the world ends. We’ve been here before, largely with the same players, and usually we win the argument regardless of the idiocy and offense we’ve endured. Still, tonight held the unique charm of being dressed with concern for our children, concern largely carried by parents who claimed they were out of the loop (because policy is always a surprise) while citing talking points from virulent, obviously organized emails. “Protect Children” read some stickers from some blazers attached to some people intent on doing exactly the opposite. The county fair was here again, and with it, the buckets lined for vomit.
At issue, of course, was the passage of new rules into the sovereign school board books that would include sexual identity and persuasion in a manner that would match the present code of county and city Human Rights Ordinances. Namely, teachers and students would be protected from discrimination, because they should be and that is a fact. So, how is it that it all became such a rancorous mess? Well, just listen to Florida Family Policy Council president John Stemberger in this clip from FOX 35 (which, it should be noted, needs a little help with headlines) and watch as state Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, shoots him down.
If link doesn’t work, try this: FOX 35, Joe vs. John
This is what a nondiscrimination policy drags up from the muck these days: bathroom paranoia. That’s what we learned tonight from the first couple of hours of public comment at the board meeting (we left when we couldn’t take it anymore; we’ll report the results in this space when we know them….HRNK!!!! EVERYTHING PASSED BECAUSE WE ARE AWESOME) and that’s why we’re angry. Following numerous monologues on just how painful it might be for a child to witness a cross-dresser in a locker room, a pedophile in a classroom, a gay in a bathhouse – or, three Polish people walking into a bar? – an ACLU representative issued the following bit of genius: “I’m struck by how many opponents focus on bathrooms. What would Sigmund Freud think if he were alive?” A comedy of terrors, it was, one that simultaneously equated homosexuality with alcoholism, the endtimes, drug addiction (“just like California!”) and every other malaise this society suffers while going on to regale the failed Exodus Ministries with praise for its efforts to return “thousands” to “normal.” Alarmingly, many of the opponents of the measure were self-declared Christians, some with actual church titles. Not so alarmingly, none were willing to admit the dangers of cloaked elderly men with crucifixes in church assembly hall bathrooms.
“Maybe there is a need for a third bathroom,” opined one of the peanuts from the gallery. OK, fine. But do you understand that somewhere out there a child in peril is hearing this crap from a parent’s mouth? Do you really think it’s worth your efforts to go out and speak against inclusiveness while warning against cross-dressing bullies that don’t exist? Do you know anything of which you speak? No, you probably don’t, as you’re not quizzed on that before you procreate and indoctrinate your brood with the same bigotry that allowed you to torture the other gay kids in your own 1978 locker room. This is a cycle. This is abuse.
Perhaps most disturbing in all of the unraveling was the “discrimination against the majority” argument that included a Jacksonville attorney warning that these specific proposed freedoms would prevent kids from exercising their own free speech, that hatred taught to them in their various Bibles (via their nefarious parents). This one: Gay people shouldn’t exist, much less have any freedoms. And trans folks? Don’t even ask us to get our heads around that! Where does it end?
It ends here. There is no boogeyman coming after your kids, and there aren’t enough fictitious bathrooms in the nation to make any of your dream scenarios a reality. There are many different kinds of people out there, and it will probably do your kids a service to know that. Moreover, if your kid happens to be one of those frightened to death (literally) by the very notion of being different, it may just save your family. Please stop being mean. Now.