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Identity politics: The Republican Party is targeting our children

Florida´s new law will ban schools from talking about gender identity. But why don´t we allow our kids to be who they are without feeling we have a right to judge?

The state of Florida is known for sun, sea, retirees, and Cubans.

Now, the state is introducing of a “Don´t Say Gay”-law which would ban any talk of LGBTQIA+ people, sexual orientation, and gender identity in schools.

Have we learned nothing?

I hate to say it, but even if you close your eyes to something and bury your head in the sand, what you try to not see is still there. If we deny young people an opportunity to share their thoughts, it will have a catastrophic effect on mental health for these vulnerable young people.

All young people need to have an opportunity to talk about and explore their identity. My own teenage daughter is one of them. At her school, there is a Rainbow Club every Thursday after school.

For a long time, my daughter thought she was ace, (asexual). She wore the purple flag, wore purple clothes with sequins on the jacket. I had a feeling it was rooted on the fact that she was not yet ready to talk about the topics that her tween friends were starting to talk about. But I kept that assumption to myself. Instead, we talked about identity and about finding out who you are.

Recently, our daughter told us she is no longer an ace. She now thinks boys are rather interesting. She still attends Rainbow Club, because of the atmosphere and because many of her friends go there.

Why can´t our kids be who they are without us feeling we have a right to judge? And why can we not be open to the fact that their identity is fluid, and that we just have to hang on and follow along on the sidelines? Why is it more important to be able to understand their identity than to make them feel accepted?

It may come as a surprise that Florida is bringing a law like this up when a 2021 Gallup poll shows that 70 percent. of all Americans are in favor of gay marriage.

But the governor of the sunny crocodile state has big political ambitions, and the political climate is such that members of The Republican Party is trying to see who can have the most extreme mindset. Never mind the LGBTQIA+ casualties when trying to bring the discourse of identity back to the 1950s.

A few months ago, I spoke with a Danish friend who lives with her wife and their two daughters in a state in the middle of the United States. »Pearl, Triangle and Square. I don´t understand! Are they dressing up, are they men or women !?”, she asked.

“I had no idea what some of the abbreviations stood for and I did not understand why it was so important. Time and again, I had to say, “Hey, I’m on your team, don´t direct your frustration at me” to my daughter.

“Does it matter?” I replied.

“They are trying to figure themselves out and this way frankly seem pretty harmless to me. Isn´t it amazing the way they are able to talk about identity in a way our generation never was?”

Even for my friend, who, is in the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s hard to understand the identity markers this generation of youth use. As humans, we are weary, maybe even resistant when we encounter something other, we do not understand.

That’s how I felt myself. I still regularly make “mistakes” and then reap a glimpse of contempt from my daughter, who makes me understand that I have messed up. I had no idea what some of the abbreviations stood for and I did not understand why it was so important. Time and again and again I had to say, “Hey, I’m on your team, don´t direct your frustration at med” to my daughter.

But this is important for young people. And it’s deeply personal. For them, it’s about many things, but it’s also about them having a need to see that we as adults respect them as individuals.

We do not have to understand to respect. Our generation does not have to stifle young people’s need to talk about and find their identity – it is not a threat to us. In fact, it is not about us at all.

Children and young people must be met with openness. All children deserve love, empathy, respect, and protection – even if they do not fit into a box we understand. Everything else is heartless.

And yes, it is important what’s going on in Florida. Just like it is important to know that the state of Texas has introduced abortion rules that make it virtually impossible for a woman to terminate her pregnancy.

Because when you little by little systematically deprive citizens of their rights, the strategy starts with minorities. It makes sense: The likelihood of the surrounding society, those with the privileges, likely won´t react.

But even if a law that deprives a group of people of their rights does not affect us personally, we must respond. Because it’s the right thing to do – and because maybe next time it’s our turn to lose a right.

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