The irony would be humorous if it weren’t so deadly.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis today signed four bills passed by his Legislature that further discriminate against the LGBTQ community in a state already famous for its “Don’t Say Gay” law.
No wonder critics have called these bills a “slate of hate.”
Here’s the irony: He signed these bills while speaking from a podium with a sign that said, “Let Kids Be Kids.”
I understand that’s what DeSantis and his control-obsessed cronies think they are doing — just letting kids be kids. But that wrongly assumes all kids have the same lived experiences in the same kinds of bodies and same social contexts. That’s the root fallacy of modern social conservatism: Believing, assuming, demanding that all people fit their idealistic version of reality.
That is a fantasy worthy of the Magic Kingdom DeSantis loves to hate. It is not real life. It is a fairy tale.
Wait, can we use the word “fairy” in Florida anymore? Oh, well, back to our story.
The DeSantis Dumpling Gang cannot merely wish every person in Florida to be heterosexual and cisgender. There is no magic wand to make it so.
“The DeSantis Dumpling Gang cannot merely wish every person in Florida to be heterosexual and cisgender.”
In real life, children, teenagers and adults experience gender dysphoria. This is a serious condition that cannot be ignored, cannot be swept under the rug. Denying its reality, demanding it be stuffed deep inside and ignored, is deadly.
In real life, children, teenagers and adults experience same-sex attraction. This is not something they make up to get attention or to be trendy, as DeSantis seems to think. Denying its reality, demanding it be stuffed deep inside and ignored, is deadly.
We have the suicide statistics to prove just how deadly this kind of discrimination is.
But DeSantis doesn’t care about that. He only cares about scoring political points with conservative voters who — like him — are afraid of things they do not understand.
Thus, this latest set of laws in Florida bans gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth, makes it harder for transgender adults to get needed medical care, expands a state education law that limits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity, and places additional restrictions on drag performances.
“We are going to remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy,” DeSantis said during the May 17 signing ceremony in Tampa.
“Sanity” and “normalcy” here, once again, are code words for keeping up a fantasy.
One of the bills gives Florida courts temporary jurisdiction over any child that “has been subjected to or is threatened with being subjected to sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures” — as if any parent is forcing this on their kids.
Sorry, folks, that’s just not the way it works. I know and have interviewed hundreds of transgender people and their family members. Never once — not a single time — have I encountered a child who was being forced by parents to reconsider their gender.
It always happens the other way around. Children or teenagers go to their parents and beg to get help because they know who they appear to be on the outside is not who they really are on the inside.
To call this child abuse is outlandish and misinformed.
“DeSantis is not living in the land of reality anyway.”
But DeSantis is not living in the land of reality anyway. At the bill signing, he said gender-affirming medical care is not based in science and is supported by only a small group of “ideologically charged” people within the medical community.
That is a flat-out lie. DeSantis’ nose should have grown several inches when he told that whopper.
Listen to what Michael Suk, a board member of the American Medical Association, said in 2021: “The AMA opposes the dangerous intrusion of government into the practice of medicine and the criminalization of health care decision-making. Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people.”
The AMA is not a small group of “ideologically charged” people.
That’s not the end of the lies, however. Another bill in the “slate of hate” expands the ban on school lessons about “human sexuality” to declare “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait” and “it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”
Here’s the tell in a statement by Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. He said the new law is essential to keep Florida schools “focused on education, not indoctrination.”
“Today’s actions make it clear — educators in Florida are expected to teach our standards and not interject their own opinions or worldview into the classroom,” Diaz said. “The department will remain focused on teaching students core subjects, rather than woke gender ideology or inappropriate topics.”
Diaz clearly states that what he and DeSantis want is to teach “our” standards statewide and to disarm other “opinions or worldview.” If that’s not indoctrination, what is?
So there you have it: This is all about control. It is about forcing everyone in Florida to live in ways that may not be authentic to how they were created by God and may, in fact, be harmful to their physical and spiritual health.
DeSantis ought to make his campaign logo a cookie cutter, because that’s what his agenda is. It’s an attempt to make every person look and act a certain way, the same way.
That may be good for Republican primary politics, but it’s morally wrong. It’s also bad theology.
Mark Wingfield serves as executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global. He is the author of the new book Honestly: Telling the Truth About the Bible and Ourselves.
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