The Central Bucks school board recently banned teachers from displaying Pride flags, but more on that in a moment. The board, which has a Republican majority, voted 6-3 in favor of the ban that prohibits teachers from discussing “social policy” issues in their classrooms. But they were only able to pass the ban because voters elected them. So first and foremost, voting matters, especially for lower level offices like school boards. If you’re in an area like Bucks County, make sure you’re voting for every elected office on the ballot. Now let’s return to why grown adults feel so threatened by rainbows.
Debra Cannon, a conservative member of the school board, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the board is trying to ensure “age appropriateness” in their decision to ban LGBTQ issues in the classroom. Here are some questions for Ms. Cannon and the other conservative members of the board:
What age is appropriate for a white child to learn about Black children?
What age is appropriate for an asian child to learn about mixed race children?
What age is appropriate for a child with one parent to learn about a child with two parents?
What age is appropriate for a child to watch Sesame Street, which features LGBTQ people?
What age is appropriate for a child to look in the sky and see a rainbow, which is also the colors of the Pride flag?
What age is appropriate for a child to talk about their two mothers for a Mother’s day assignment?
What age is appropriate for a child who believes all people are good to learn about bigotry?
Perhaps if Ms. Cannon could answer those questions, her argument that things like Pride flags are not age appropriate would hold more weight. But she can’t answer those questions, at least not seriously, and her argument is, in fact, unconvincing.
Many LGBTQ people know they are LGBTQ from an early age. In Central Bucks classrooms, where teachers are prohibited from displaying Pride flags, there are students in those classrooms who already know they’re gay. The only thing that banning Pride flags and discussion of gay people does is make those gay students feel ashamed.
The thread that appears in issues about banning gay books and flags and people is, essentially, that conservative parents are afraid to tell their children gay people exist because they believe their children will then suddenly become gay themselves. For the millionth time, your child will not become gay simply by learning that gay people exist. Furthermore, you can tell your child gay people exist without sexualizing it. You’ve already told them how they have a mother and a father who love each other, right? Did you sexualize that when you explained it?
But more urgently, here’s a thought for the conservative parents out there:
You say you don’t want your child to learn about gay people. How about when your child’s gay classmate commits suicide because their teachers and friends weren’t allowed to say gay people exist and they thus believed they’d never be normal? How about then? It seems more difficult at that point, because not only will you have to explain to your child that gay people exist, but you’d also have to explain that gay people commit suicide because of the continued antagonization they face from people like the Central Bucks School District’s Republican majority.
Pride flags in a classroom indicate to an LGBTQ student that the teacher is compassionate to the LGBTQ community. Pride flags do not make teachers gay. They do not make children gay. Pride flags are political only to the conservative people who want them to be political. To everyone else, they’re a symbol of love, hope, solidarity, empathy, and goodwill.
Here’s one last question for Debra Cannon and the Central Bucks School Board: who is more misguided, someone who thinks a rainbow is a symbol of goodness, or someone who thinks a rainbow is a symbol of shame?