If Republicans Think Teachers Are All Child Molesters, Why Are They Sending Their Kids To School?
This week, we mark the one month anniversary of Ron DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw coming up with the bright idea to try to frame Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill as an "anti-grooming" bill, meant to keep teachers from "grooming" children by telling them about the existence of LGBTQ people and then, one would assume, molesting them. Since then, the Right has fiercely doubled down, insisting that all they want to do is protect children from being sexually abused by these predators.
And yet, awkwardly, they still seem to get confused about how the rhetoric is supposed to work, and frequently end up flustered when questioned on it or required to expound on it for more than a few sentences. Some have even been known to be entirely frank about the fact that this is all a troll, openly saying that it is revenge against the Left for calling Republicans racists or Nazis just for saying or doing blatantly racist or antisemitic things. Others have found themselves unable to defend the stance without revealing that they are, in fact, giant bigots.
The Federalist ran a piece yesterday titled "Yes, David French, Public Schools Are Absolutely ‘Grooming’ Children. I Would Know," in which writer Kaeley Triller explains to conservative writer David French, who recently published an essay titled "Against The 'Groomer' Smear," that her experience with sexual abuse in her past gives her unique insight into the way that teachers would use such a curriculum to groom students for the purposes of sexually abusing them.
I'm not going to lie, I was actually a little interested in her argument, as no one making this argument has ever precisely explained how they believe it would work.
However, rather than actually explain how this would all go down, Triller's only actual claim is that if the teachers tell children that trans people exist, those children will immediately demand to be "sterilized."
In kindergarten classrooms across the country, teachers are reading books like Michael Hall’s “Red” to five-year-old students. The book teaches these kids it’s possible to be born in “the wrong body.” You don’t think this is grooming?
You don’t think that telling them this lie and planting this seed of doubt exploits their vulnerability and primes them for future insecurity to be preyed upon by pharmaceutical companies that benefit from their lifelong dependence on puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones that will render them permanently sterile?
I’m going to pause there and repeat this. Permanently sterile. We are chemically castrating children before they’re even legally old enough to pierce their ears without parental consent. Shouldn’t the wholesale sterilization of children give you pause? It’s a human rights atrocity. And a sexual crime.
Fun fact! This lady very much does not know what chemical castration is, nor its purpose. It has nothing to do with transgender people and nothing at all to do with sterilization. It's giving a patient anaphrodisiac drugs to lower their libido and is traditionally used for some prostate and breast cancer patients but is also used on sex offenders in some countries. It is also totally reversible.
Another thing that has nothing to do with sterilization and is also reversible is the thing Triller likely thinks she is talking about here — puberty blockers. As soon as a patient stops taking them, they will go through puberty as normal. They're given to gender- questioning teens to give them more time to decide if they are certain about wanting to transition. One would think that a person who believes that kids are just deciding to transition because they think it's the cool thing to do would actually be in favor of this.
At no point, however does Triller actually explain how teachers would ostensibly use this curriculum to molest students, except by saying "by way of explanation, I spent the first 10 years of my life being groomed by a pedophile. I am intimately familiar with the tactics and methods, all of which are brazenly present in much of today’s curriculum." As horrible as what Triller went through must have been for her, she neglects to get even remotely specific about how "today's curriculum" would lead to children getting molested.
This sort of disingenuousness is hardly new to the GOP — they do it all the time. Rather than just explicitly state the reasons they are for or against something, they come up with a reason they imagine is slightly more empathetic. It's not that they hate this group or that group or that they don't care about other people in general, but that they are frightened for their safety or freedom or someone else's in some capacity. They've done it with immigrants, with LGBTQ rights, with women's rights, COVID, guns, and, of course, varied and sundry expressions of racism.
It's not that these arguments actually convince anyone who disagrees with them to begin with, but they make it more comfortable for those who do agree with them to do so openly. People might not feel comfortable saying, "I don't want my kid to be told that LGBTQ people exist because I don't want them to think that's okay or to think I am a bigot," but they can feel quite righteous about wanting to protect children from molestation.
That being said — let's say they are sincere. That they truly believe that Florida's law and others like it are simply meant to keep predatory teachers from "grooming" students for abuse. This still does not make any damned sense.
If I truly, in my heart of hearts, believed that teachers would somehow be using the existence of LGBTQ people as a way to "groom" students for the purpose of sexually abusing them, my problem would not be the existence of LGBTQ people but with the actual teachers themselves. It is for this same reason that I also do not support banning candy just so that predatory strangers do not lure in children with said candy. Also because I like candy.
So why the hell are these people sending their kids to school to begin with? If they really believe this is true, it would be pure folly to assume that all of these child predators would be foiled forever simply by eliminating their ability to discuss the existence of LGBTQ people in the classroom. Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!
If this really is their true concern, then they should pull their children out of school and start homeschooling them. What kind of absolute monsters send their kids to school if they really believe that their teachers are one reading of "Heather Has Two Mommies" away from molesting them?
This is certainly not to say that teachers have never sexually abused children. They obviously have. Just like priests, pastors, Republican Senate candidates and others hardly known to have nice things to say about gay and transgender people — but you don't see us banning religion or barring all Republicans from shopping malls, do you? But if they want to keep at this, we may have to consider it. For the children.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse