On Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Recently, a lot of effort has gone into the creation of a series of laws that the more disingenuous of folks are trying to portray as “parent’s rights” bills, with the goal o “protecting children” from being educated about sexual orientation or Gender Identity.

These bills are very much a product of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a hate group that was created to act as the far right’s answer to the ACLU, PFAW, and other “liberal” organizations. The specific goal remains to criminalize the existence of LGBTQ+ people, but they have to use the most heavily stigmatized group within that in order to wedge these through.

The effect of this is to outlaw the teaching of anything related to gender identity or sexual orientation. As the governor of Florida likes to note, these are things that no child should be taught in school before third grade.

The initial bills use the language of sexual orientation and gender identity, and it is very obvious that those doing this think that these are things that only apply to folks who are not heterosexual or cisgender.

And it is there that they have a serious problem.

Now, it is comforting to say (and I have said) that this means that they can’t teach kids about family and parents and basic, super simplified birds and bees, et al but there is a trap here.  That trap is that the laws only apply to schools.

So kids can still learn about moms and dads and sisters and brothers and boys and girls and straight folks and gay folks and all that at home. But, it also means that the cannot teach that George Washington was a man. Or that some sports are played by boys and some sports are played by girls.

It means that school textbooks cannot make any mention to man or woman, use any pronouns like him, her, she, he, hers, his, and ALSO cannot use gender neutral pronouns for people since those, too, are functional aspects of the teaching of gender identity.

Those same books cannot mention husband or wife, since those roles are tied to a gender identity, and they cannot mention mom or dad for the same reason. Simply using them teaches that, regardless if it is part of a curriculum — and the law does not address if this is a formal curriculum (it never is).

So the very interesting trick here is that the law means an increase to state spending that no one will pay attention to because the goal is strictly to treat the ideas of sexual orientation or gender identity as something not applicable to “most people”. They are not going t spend any money to change the books, they are not going to put any effort into monitoring curricula.

And that is why the laws will lose in court.  They attempt to redefine in law the science and structures of sexual orientation and gender identity.

I am curious to see how they defend them. They are counting on the presence of animus from judges appointed under the criminal, and so it is interesting that this is going to count on an eventual change, even though the make up of the court was not friendly to such assertions at the highest level.

It will be private suits that have an impact, though.  Not class actions, I hope, but individual lawsuits by individuals, in court, over the harm done not by the bill, but the by the statements made regarding it.  Hard to win, harder to fight, but still essential in the long term.

And make no mistake, these are harmful.

They may also be completely useless. You see, the states are not immune to federal action. and the flurry of actions and announcements made on March 31st by the current administration are wonderfully exciting — because they are actively looking at the laws and how they are constructed and preparing to gut them.

Texas got pushed back because their “take kids away from parents and put them in the most corrupt and worst state care system in the country” wasn’t law — it is merely an unsupported policy. But that policy sparked efforts by the ADF to codify the same structures, and that is why they are now going afte healthcare.

And *that* means there is leverage to improve care for trans yuth in states that are not hostile — by setting firm rules for consent.

That will be a key push, and is one that many should look at doing right now.  A 13 year old can consent to marriage in some jurisdictions, and efforts to block child pregnancy mean that others allow contraception (hormones) to be available even earlier.

So that has to happen.

Now, what exactly is sexual orientation?

Well, there are four of them, in terms of the traditional science:

Heterosexual (sexual attraction to someone different from you in terms of gender/sex)
Homosexual (attraction to someone the same as you)
Bisexual (attraction to people the same and different)
Asexual (attraction to none because sex isn’t interesting).

We know there are more, yes, but the science classifies them in basically those four ways and three of them are the legal ones that matter.

Gender Identity is knowing, as part of your sense of self (that is, a discrete individual) where you fall in a social sense.

For us, that really comes down to


That’s all they are.

So one interesting benefit, if this law is taken to its logical and unintended conclusion, is that it could potentially result in more trans and gender diverse people, because there won’t be reinforcements and the system of socialization onto sex/gender roles will be broken properly and effectively. Thus freeing people to be more exploratory across the board in terms of their sexual orientation (including going to school dances) and gender identity (notably nonbinary modalities).

Because what they want to do is (in a bigger picture than they talk about sense) is use the system for socialization of our youth into the culture to erase and marginalize those who are not cisgender or heterosexual.

But because their understanding of socialization is so deeply flawed that they are blind to it (and it draws on old, old TERFisms), they are ultimately working to destroy the current socialization schema.

In short, they are abolishing gender.

And that is a hilarious outcome, to me.