As the school year begins, parents have a fair number of concerns about COVID-19, safety precautions, and their children getting a safe and equitable education. Teachers and fellow staff also have extremely valid concerns about safety and job security amid the pandemic. As Daily Kos has covered, the pandemic is far from the top priority for a concerning number of folks. What else has parents upset? Apparently, the existence of openly LGBTQ+ teachers.
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It’s no surprise to hear that Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez maddened conservatives and sent Fox News, in particular, into a frenzy with her recent inclusive comments on abortion. Ocasio-Cortez participated in an interview with CNN in which she discussed Republican Gov.
There are countless valid reasons to be concerned about students, teachers, and other staff returning to in-person classrooms here in the United States. Mask mandates are all over the place, children under the age of 12 aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine, and both students and staff may be immunocompromised or live with folks who are particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Teacher removed from classroom after video joking about pledging allegiance to Pride flag went viral
If one thing doesn’t change, it’s the ability of conservatives to become enraged at the slightest bit of LGBTQ+ pride or acceptance.
Private colleges aren’t the only places leaving students with serious student loan debt—I would know
Talking about student debt and talking about the cost of college are topics that generally go hand-in-hand. While some progressives, like Sen. Bernie Sanders, argued on behalf of eliminating all student debt, period, others in the Democratic Party, like President Joe Biden, have taken up a much more conservative stance: forgiving up to $10,000 in federal student loans per borrower.
State colleges and universities play a funny role in this dialogue.
As the world still continues to combat the novel coronavirus, parts of life are beginning to reopen (at least temporarily), bringing many people out of their homes for the first time in a while. Whether that means returning to in-office work, returning to the classroom in person, or simply socializing face-to-face again, there’s been a good bit of online hysteria focused on one health topic that isn’t face masks and vaccine booster shots. What is it? Weight.
States across the nation have handled the novel coronavirus pandemic very, very differently, thanks to irresponsible Republican governors. It’s no surprise, then, that when it comes to masks in public schools, districts are handling the matter with varying degrees of concern for public health and safety.
Again thanks to their Republican leaders, Texas and Florida are concerning both residents and the rest of the country with bans against mask mandates.
As students, teachers, and other school employees return to the classroom for in-person learning, many are worried about the novel coronavirus. Unfortunately (and frankly, unsurprisingly), COVID-19 is not the only horror people have to worry about. Racism is still alive and well in America’s school systems, with one recent example coming out of Salinas High School in Salinas, California.
As countless surveys and reports have shown, LGBTQ+ youth experience higher rates of bullying, violence, and isolation than their cisgender, heterosexual peers. Trans youth, especially, have a tough time in school. When looking at violence on a structural level and considering, say, the intersections of gender identity and class or sexual orientation and race, for example, we can pull out even more concerning numbers.
Police identify recent shooter at Michigan pier as plotter of prevented high school shooting in 2018
At this point in the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are so many stories about schools closing, workers protesting, and people using their last breaths to discuss the vaccine—either wishing they had gotten it or still uttering anti-vaccine propaganda—that the instances begin to blur together.
Since the novel coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States, people on all sides of the political aisle have praised physicians—as well as others in health care, like nurses and janitorial and cooking staffs—for their tireless work and dedication in the face of increased workload and, frankly, increased trauma.
I am one of the first to admit frustration and disappointment when it comes to student loan relief. We heard from Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren about their sweeping but feasible plans to cancel—or at least reduce—the serious burden of student debt on the campaign trail. Amid the pandemic, Donald Trump did, technically, do a good thing by pausing payments and collections on federally-held student loans.
As Daily Kos continues to highlight, justice in the United States is far from just. We’ve covered countless horrifying instances of police brutality against Black and brown people, as well as torture and abuse. We’ve covered the disturbing ways people in power use their status to coerce, pressure, and harm vulnerable and marginalized folks.
Given that we’re facing a pandemic, that people are concerned about housing and food security, that student loan debt continues to weigh on many, and that families are stressed about sending kids back to in-person school, one would think the collective population has more to worry about than yard signs. But as Dimitri Hepburn told CBS 2 Chicago, a person who seemingly works for the city of Chicago went onto his property and flipped a Black Lives Matter sign face down.
If anything infuriates people during a global pandemic, it’s having to see other folks wearing masks. Wait, what? No, it doesn’t make sense, and yes, somehow, it’s our reality. While our understanding of the novel coronavirus has shifted since the world began reacting to COVID-19, experts and medical professionals have consistently recommended mask-wearing in public—and especially in indoor, enclosed spaces—for months.
Even prior to the absolute onslaught of anti-trans bills targeting trans youth, especially in regards to age-appropriate, gender-affirming health care and the opportunity to compete on girls’ sports teams, research has shown that trans young people have a really, really hard time in school. Trans youth report higher rates of bullying, harassment, and assault than their cisgender peers.
As Daily Kos has covered, while there are many instances of people acting in solidarity and bravery during the pandemic, there have also been examples of racism, discrimination, and downright cruelty. As my colleague Aysha Qamar has covered, anti-Asian hate crimes have swept the nation during the COVID-19 crisis; which, of course, we can’t think about without remembering the racist rhetoric spewed by Donald Trump and his lackeys.
Hate can crop up where you least expect it. Say, for example, in a Star Wars memorabilia store. Tiesa Meskis, an openly trans woman who also happens to serve on the town’s city council, confronted the owner of one such store that was hanging a shockingly bigoted sign, and, unfortunately, that person was not at all happy to be called in and educated. She posted a video of the Aug. 5 exchange on her Facebook and it has since gone viral.
If there’s one point of hysteria Republicans have gathered behind in 2021, it’s the hateful mission to keep trans girls out of sports. Lawmakers have used a number of thinly veiled arguments to cover up their transphobia, arguing that banning trans girls from competing in girls’ sports is about protecting [cisgender] girls and keeping things “fair.” In reality, of course, trans girls are girls and thus deserve to be on the girls’ team.
When it comes to LGBTQ+ rights, protections, and equality, we all know how important it is to stay with the long-term battle in terms of federal and state-level actions. Unfortunately, many of us also know how long the road to actual acceptance can be, and that even if folks technically have protections, it doesn’t mean people in their community are actually safe or supportive.
As Daily Kos continues to cover, anti-trans legislation popping up around the nation focuses on trans and nonbinary youth. Unsurprisingly, a lot of this discrimination would impact how students are treated at school; for example, the Republican effort to ban transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports teams.
Safe, age-appropriate, and affordable gender-affirming medical care is crucial for transgender and nonbinary folks. Affirming care can be a number of things, ranging from a medical professional supporting the use of pronouns to prescribing hormonal treatments to surgery. Sometimes trial and error are involved to find the best fit, and sometimes people pause and restart treatment over the course of a lifetime. All of that is normal and valid.
Earlier in July, Daily Kos covered a violent mob of far-right protesters descending upon Wi Spa in Los Angeles, California. Why the mob? A customer of the spa shared a video to Instagram in which she alleged she saw a trans woman in the women’s section of the spa. In the video, customers confront spa staff and question the spa’s trans-inclusive policies, asserting that trans women aren’t actually women.
Many people have fond memories of going to the library as a young person. Maybe to check out books or movies, maybe to use the computer or internet, or maybe to attend programming put on for kids and teenagers. Mikayla Oz, a magician based in Iowa, shared her own experience getting started with magic in libraries with local outlet K2News, describing her younger self as thinking magic was the “coolest thing” in the world.
Though June tends to get much of the attention because of Pride Month, holidays and days of recognition for LGBTQ+ people don’t begin and end in just one month. For example, on Wednesday, July 14, we celebrate International Nonbinary People’s Day, which honors and centers folks who are nonbinary. Nonbinary, as a basic definition, refers to people whose gender does not fit into the binary of male and female. Nonbinary refers to gender identity, not sexual orientation.
Myriam Gurba, a Mexican American, bisexual writer and advocate, is first and foremost an expert in her own experiences—as a queer woman of color, as a survivor of abuse, as a survivor of gender-based violence, Gurba knows her story in a way that no one else quite does. As Gurba explained to Daily Kos when she joined us for a phone interview, this type of “expertise” is precisely what people should focus on when it comes to supporting survivors and movements like #MeToo.
As we celebrate Pride Month and center the LGBTQ community, many people are happy to post statuses identifying themselves as allies, buying rainbow merchandise, and appearing at the local (this year, most likely virtual) Pride parade. Those are all great actions, of course. Another way to support LGBTQ people and communities is supporting media by and about LGBTQ folks.
LGBTQ people of color—and especially trans people of color—face disproportionate levels of harm, discrimination, and oppression when compared to cisgender, heterosexual populations—especially, white, cisgender, heterosexual populations. LGBTQ folks of color, however, also endure more harm than their white queer peers. For many of us, that information isn’t terribly surprising, though it is of course disturbing.
Anti-LGBTQ discrimination and harassment can occur on a number of levels. As most think of right away, bullying and teasing can occur between kids and teenagers while in school. Oppression can come down from the federal and state level, too, as we’re seeing with the recent slew of anti-trans legislation cropping up around the nation. People may also experience queerphobia from coworkers, family members, and even friends.
Several thousand people gathered in Brooklyn, New York, to march in solidarity with and for Black trans youth over the weekend. This action would always be inspiring, important, and necessary, but especially so given the number of anti-trans bills Republicans have slung out amid the pandemic; and the number Republican governors have signed into law in recent months.