Coby Chuang | Mustang News

Owen Lavine is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News opinion columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

Republican Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed a bill dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” into law on Feb. 24, which, according to the bill, prohibits “discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in grades kindergarten through third grade.

This fascistic and traditionalist piece of legislation has been condemned by LGBTQ+ groups globally. Marie-Christine Mahe, Vice President of Stonewall SLO, a queer democratic club, called the legislation “deplorable,” in an email to Mustang News. 

“It really resonated with me because I felt just the same [as I did] nearly 50 years ago and it’s so sad that young people are still going through the same thing,” Mahe said. 

Like most pieces of conservative legislation, this one only serves to stop a manufactured fear placed upon a scapegoat demographic who falls outside of the W.A.S.P., or White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, hegemony. 

The War on Drugs was launched by reactionary conservatives who thought society was degenerating due to drug use, and thus sought to “ban drugs,” which has been an absolute failure on every metric. The anti-abortion movement has worked thick and thin to make abortion illegal, something they have unfortnately been successful at recently

People did not stop using drugs or having abortions despite them being criminalized and likewise, people will not stop being queer because we make it illegal to talk about. 

These movements in conservative media are rooted in two deeply fundamental post-civil rights era conservative fears: 

  1. Women leaving domestic duties and entering the professional workforce allows for children to go unsupervised and will lead them to discover potentially “harmful” pieces of media and think outside of the Christian hegemony in the nuclear family unit. 
  2. Integrating schools and allowing children to attend those schools will cause said children to develop empathy for oppressed groups.

Candace Owens, a prominent conservative pundit, leveraged those essential fears in her wildly contradictory speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) just a day after the “Don’t Say Gay Bill” went into law.

Owens opens her speech by explaining that sometimes, when female bears give birth, male bears will attack the cubs so the females will go back into heat. She concludes this story by questioning the motives of schools and politicians decrying that they are “masking [children], injecting them [and] sexualizing them through the education system.” 

Owens harps on the conservative distrust of governmental institutions when handling children. This is an ancient concept in conservative thought stemming from the Reagan era which is best understood through Reagan’s very own words: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’”

Owens goes on to declare women entering the workforce as the start of the United States Government trying to “co-parent” with mothers and fathers. 

She spells it out herself in no uncertain terms, when women began leaving home to “be like a man,” is when our children were put at risk. 

They are at risk of learning about gay people, and at risk of learning that two children, one dog, a stepford wife and a white picket fence may not be the recipe for a happy life. And, of course, they are at risk of developing empathy for the victims of white supremacist capitalism. These are the risks Owens believes exist for American children if mothers leave the home. 

If, as conservatives, you want to keep the next generation of children from thinking that being gay is normal, then keeping that information sequestered is very important. A 2011 study found that institutional, familial and peer support was essential when coming out for many queer people. As such, conservatives have decided to attack schools’ ability to teach children to accept queer people.

Queer people won’t disappear as a result of this law or conservative rhetoric, being queer in this country will only become more dubious and dangerous than it already is.