I felt like I was punched in the gut as I drove my 11 year-old son and his friend to school Friday morning. We were listening to the news about the Religious Freedom exemption bills that are currently flooding the Georgia legislature. All of a sudden I realized the impact that these proposals have on my sons and the alarming affect they have on children everywhere.
Our children have two options for internalizing what these discriminatory laws would mean in the name of religious freedom, and neither option is good.
They could feel betrayed by potentially their friends, their neighbors, their community, and their government; they can be angry and frustrated. They can be confused about the immense hypocrisy of people citing that practicing their religion is being threatened but in turn, they are denying dignity and access to housing, healthcare, adoptions, and a plethora of other basic needs. And they are using tax dollars to do it.
However, the alternative impression that these bills leave on our kids chills me to the bone. Our kids might actually believe that these bills have credence. They may horrifyingly internalize these anti-LGBT proposals as true. We live in a heteronormative society, where 99% of the messages kids get is that boys should only be attracted to girls and vice versa. Additionally, if a child, or adult, strays from the gender norm of male or female from the sex they were assigned at birth, they are labeled subversive and therefore there is “reason” to scrutinize and alienate others.
Laws are used as precedent. If we allow these bills to go any further, they will be cited as fact and fuel the trauma that not only my children of two moms experience but all children-and their adults. We must speak up to say that any discrimination is wrong, especially in the name of religion.
The great Jewish sage, Rabbi Hillel, said, "If not now, when?" His words have never been more real. The Georgia Senate voted to pass the anti-LGBT hybrid FADA/PPA bill Friday afternoon. The vote was along party lines. The bill now moves back to the House. When you know that your legislators will vote against the bill, thank them. They need to know that their constituents support equality and dignity for every Georgian. For those of you who don't know how your legislators will vote or will vote for the bill, write to them, call them, go visit them. Tell your neighbors to speak with your representatives.
This will be a very different state if this bill passes. It won't be safe for anyone to live without fear of discrimination. Our children need us to speak out and they need us to do it now.