‘Don’t Say Gay’ law denies identities and truths

Sarah Carter

Dear neighbors,

To those of you who live part time in Florida or have relatives down there, I ask you to to continue resisting the “Don’t Say Gay” law and those who passed it. Many Ashevilleans are connected to Floridians; what happens down there affects us and vice versa. This type of law appears to be spreading to other states governed by Republican legislatures.

The battle over the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, as well as over banning critical race theory from schools, is about denying whole swaths of people their identities and truths. Kids’ hearts and minds are at stake, and it is not just the gay and brown ones; the richness of truth, the beauty of a diverse world is denied to every single child when gag orders are placed on shared histories and ways of being.

But yes, more direct harm will come to queer and BIPOC kids who won’t understand a big part of themselves and why the world looks at them in a certain way. There need to be positive, affirming conversations that tell them: You are OK; you are beautiful miracles just the way you are — and by the way — the people looking at you in that way are doing so because of a long, compounding history, and here is how you can cope with it in a healthy way.

I grew up in Asheville in the ’90s, and people in school didn’t talk much about queerness, unless it was in the schoolyard and it was a slur. The lack of adult conversation about queerness, in a curriculum or otherwise, left gaps for kids to fill with whispers or make derogatory remarks. Think about that for a minute. Think about if there was some integral part of you that nobody, not even your parents, knew about, that even you only had an inkling of understanding about, and nobody talked about it, except to ridicule. Would you wear that thing on your chest like a superhero “S,” or would you try to kill it, kill a part of yourself?

Growing up, I didn’t understand that I was a queer kid, but I did know that I was different. I yearned to fit in but just felt like an oddball. If I did start to suspect why I was different, I shoved it down, not wanting to be whispered about or bullied. I was depressed. It took me a long time to understand and love who I am. To be clear, I don’t consider myself a victim of pointed homophobia; I am describing what an absence of clear social acceptance feels like and how it affected my development. I consider myself lucky to have a loving, open-minded family and to live in a relatively safe community, but even still, I struggled. I think about how hard it is for people in less supportive environments all the time.

I hope that more kids will have a precocious enough knowledge of themselves to choose to wear a superhero “S” on their chest instead of killing a part of themselves. In fact, I am counting on this next generation to lead the way and to make these legislated silences backfire on social conservatives. But adults, please help — you are supposed to be the adults in the room. Also, if you are queer, now is a good time to tell someone your coming-out story and why it is important to be yourself.

Social conservatives are spreading a fearful conspiracy that liberals are somehow brainwashing kids in school; sending angry mobs to school board meetings; and modeling anger and fearful behavior to kids. They have decided to try to bleach out nonconformity to heteronormative, white supremacy by enforcing a weird and creepy silence in schools. This robs kids of a normal development of self that might otherwise take place in safe, curious learning environments. Hardworking historians and scientists, artists and dedicated teachers are the ones who should craft curriculums.

— Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is a business owner, gardener and writer who lives in Oakley with her wife and dog. If you, too, have a personal story to share that connects with a community issue, let us know via letters@mountainx.com.


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7 thoughts on “‘Don’t Say Gay’ law denies identities and truths

  1. Mike R.

    In the early years of schooling, these sorts of issues are best left to parents and schools should simply refrain from addressing these issues. They will only mess it up anyway.

  2. blueridgeguvnor

    Americas youth keep falling behind the rest of the world in almost every subject, Math, Science, etc

    How about we teach kids the basics again and leave this social experiment out of it.

    The thought of my crusty 5th grade teacher telling me about his sex life, boy I’m glad I missed out on that.

    Return to sanity.

    • indy499

      5th grader? This law deal with k-3rd grade. The letter writer glosses over what the law says for a buzz phrase not in the law or about the law.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      Government screwls feel obligated to ruin the youth of America. Get YOUR child OUT of there NOW !!!

  3. indy499

    You could start by not referring to a law by some phrase that literally has nothing to do with the law. When the law is read to people, a clear majority support it.

    We have enough things to worry about in NC.

  4. WNC

    There is no such thing as “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida. However there is a “Parental Rights in Education” bill, what a difference. I’m glad Florida doesn’t want “Schools” telling my K-3 child they can arbitrarily decided what sex, gender etc. they are, and occasionally change genders.
    This is child abuse and comparable to telling children they can decide if they want to play in the road. The writer of this article wants to confuse children because or their personal beliefs and struggles. The writer wants to discriminate against the masses of kids to accommodate confused adults.
    Maybe Florida want have children leaving public education in the great percentages of North Carolina. North Carolina pretends they can’t figure out why parents are fleeing public schools in search of education not indoctrination.

    Florida continues to have people move there from Blue States in mass numbers (not to mention people of many nations).

  5. Enlightened Enigma

    there was nothing ‘gay’ about the bill, but the propagandist progressives DISTORT everything for their heinous messaging.

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