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    Ann Rostow Where’s the Rest of the Story?

    By Ann Rostow–

    Where’s the Rest of the Story?

    I was laboriously going through GLBT headlines, forced by my deadline pressure to summon up an interest in the usual suspects; fired teachers, unhappy Christians, mean conservative anti-trans politicians, and the like. It was like déjà vu all over again. Must I really inflict the same scenarios upon you week after week, I wondered? Am I not exhausting you loyal readers with endless stories of lawsuits, complaints, injustice, and the occasional gay penguin?

    Thus, it was with that shameful attitude of ennui that I clicked the unpromising link (from Fox News, no less!) to: “Christian childcare teacher who refused to read LGBT books to kids sues after being fired: ‘Blatantly illegal.’”

    I was vaguely thinking that I wasn’t sure you could force an antigay teacher to read gay books aloud under current law, because I thought an employer was required to make at least a minimal effort to meet religious objections. Perhaps, I thought with some annoyance, I’ll have to research this detail before I describe it. But then I read the actual complaint!

    This irritating individual teaches kids from one to five at a Bright Horizons Children’s Center in Studio City, California. The library has a handful of books, including half a dozen of the Mommy, Mama and Me ilk that we know and love. The teacher, Nelli Parisenkova, frowns on homosexuality, sexual experimentation, premarital sex, and polygamy, although it’s not clear to me how these topics would arise in the pages of this type of material absent a series of questions from clueless toddlers.

    (Pro tip: Tell the toddlers the kid in the book doesn’t have a Daddy, but has an extra Mommy instead. 

    Can I trade my brother for two sisters?

    What if she had only one ear, could she get three eyes? 

    Okay, snack time!)

    Moving along, on a hot day last April, Nelli had to read to the kids and asked an assistant if she could completely remove the five gay books from the shelf and just read the acceptable stories that remained. The assistant said yes and then reported her to a higher up. Nelli rightly got a lecture for this. Why the hell would she have to remove books in order to read the ones she liked? And it doesn’t sound as if anyone forced her to read the gay books. Just leave them on the damned shelf.

    After the incident, the (lesbian) director, Katy Callas, gave Parisenkova a stern lecture and, according to the complaint told her: “If you cannot celebrate with us, then Bright Horizons is not a place for you.” Parisenkova formally requested a religious accommodation and was instead ordered to take diversity training, which she refused. The upshot is that she was fired and sued.

    I’m sorry, but this woman sounds like a pill. No one forced her to read the gay books. She wanted them off the shelf while she read the other ones! I’ve only read the Fox News account and this woman’s own complaint, so now I’m dying to read the “Employee Conference Memo” issued by the school, which Parisenkova claims is full of falsehoods.

    This is like those trashy B-movies you start watching by accident and find yourself incapable of shutting off. I must know the other side of this story. Fast forward fifteen minutes and the only news reports I can find on this are all from conservative outlets, so I can’t give you a full picture. I did notice a link under “Read More” that asks: “Is Emmanuel the Emu OK? Internet’s beloved bird fights for life after flu hits Florida farm.”

    According to The Daily Mail, Emmanuel “is suffering from nerve damage and is unable to eat or drink” after contracting an illness from wild geese who invaded Knuckle Bump Farms in South Florida. Why is that under “Read More?” Wouldn’t “Read More” lead us to more stories about religion or gay things? 

    I think we’ve exhausted this topic.

    Believe It or Not

    Speaking of the well-worn road of common GLBT subjects, I have a little news on the transgender cake lawsuit out of Colorado and you know what? I’m just going to skip it for now. We will be revisiting Colorado anti-discrimination law frequently in coming episodes as we gear up for the big Supreme Court Free Speech case starring the Christian web designer.

    Let’s talk instead about the idea that children all over the country are identifying as cats, and woke public school districts are following along by placing litter boxes in the bathrooms. This rings a faint bell. I remember some oddball local lawmaker making this claim in some city commission meeting or something like that, to the amusement of the gay media and others. But now, according to NBC News, some 20 conservatives on the campaign trails have repeated this accusation, plucked out of the fantastical ether of their rabid collective imaginations.

    School districts have been obliged to issue press releases or other statements assuring the public that no, they do not have litter in the bathroom, and no, there are no students identifying as cats. 

    I’m not really sure where this started, but I’m guessing it might have been someone’s hyperbolic remark on the level of: “What next? Soon, school districts be forced to put litter in the bathroom for kids who identify as cats!” I suppose I can see one or two nutcases repeating the notion for whatever reason. But two dozen? Google: “litter in school bathrooms” and you’ll see the range of school district disavowals and crackpot politicians, including a candidate for governor of Colorado.

    When we were fighting for the right to marry, our adversaries often asked what would happen if someone wanted to marry a pet, or an inanimate object. In response, we would protest that these were absurd arguments. We never thought that they were real points of contention, nor did those who warned of these outlandish slippery slopes. This time, it seems as if some of these people actually believe that animal identities are the logical extension of being gay or trans. Sadly, that’s the wide gulf we have to bridge in order to reach each other. 

    And listen. Kids pretend to be animals all the time. My friends and I were all horses for several years as children, and I had several adult friends in their thirties who all pretended to be elephants. (I was Jumbo.) This is not what we’re talking about. 

    Lastly, I just pray that our less hinged activists on the far left don’t start advocating on behalf of these mythical cat creatures and insisting on suitable facilities. Or maybe that’s just what we need— for the whole country to devolve into a nonsensical Seussian debate that ends with a radical return to sanity. 

    Ruh Roh!

    We all knew that the Million Moms would be horrified by Velma Dinkley, a suspiciously gay-seeming character in Scooby-Doo, who has now been revealed as a lesbian in a new movie.

    “Please be aware that Trick or Treat Scooby-Doo! portrays the familiar character of Velma as a lesbian,” they announced pompously. “To confirm that she is a lesbian, Velma is depicted as googly-eyed and speechless when she encounters a new female character, fashion designer Coco Diablo.”

    The Million Moms, an offshoot of the American Family Association that as far as I can tell involves one Mom, instructs us to: “Make sure to share this information with your friends and family to guarantee they are not blindsided by this drastic twist in a familiar cast of characters. If you were unaware of such a change, you would want them to inform you.” 

    According to writer James Gunn, the development should not “blindside” anyone who is familiar with the show. Velma has always been gay, even when she was dating Shaggy, who by implication is a male character. That relationship was wrong for her, Gunn told Vanity Fair in 2020. “There are hints about the why in that episode with the mermaid, and if you follow the entire Marcie arc, it seems as clear as we could make it ten years ago. I don’t think Marcie and Velma had time to act on their feelings during the main timeline, but post reset, they are a couple. You can not like it, but this was our intention.”

    Hmmm. I confess I did not follow the “entire Marcie arc,” but the “episode with the mermaid” sounds intriguing, does it not? And if Velma and Marcie are a couple, why is Velma making eyes at Coco Diablo? Not cool, girl.

    We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Everywhere!

    There’s good news for the GLBT electorate according to research from the Human Rights Campaign and Bowling Green State University. The boffins used data from the last census to determine that by 2030, one in seven voters will be LGBTQ, while the figure will rise to one in five by 2040. Right now, we stand at a measly 11 percent—let’s call it one in ten for purposes of comparison. 

    The bottom line is that we’re becoming more significant. But you have to ask yourself … will the pool of eligible voters even matter in 2030 or 2040 when dictatorial Republicans have taken control of the Democratic process and tossed out all the votes from urban centers and blue states?

    But let’s be optimistic and assume Democracy survives a decade or two. It’s true that the GLBT community is not monolithic. But we’re still pretty damned Democratic—one of the bluest voting blocs out there. The rise in our electoral power is mainly due to Gen Z’s propensity for identifying as something other than straight, so we’ll see whether or not they stay on the liberal side of the aisle as I hope and pray they will. 

    LGBTQ votes will exceed the national average in Georgia, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, and Colorado. In Ohio, the report says LGBTQ voters will rise from 10 percent of eligible voters to 18 percent in 2040. Go, Buckeyes! Talk about swing states!

    Meanwhile, looking at next month’s showdown, don’t forget that even if we lose the House, a Democratic Senate will ensure that Biden and Schumer will basically reverse the Trump judge phenomenon, by appointing more judges to the appellate courts in our four years then Trump and McConnell did in their four years. And for those of you Republicans out there, forgive me for the blanket use of “we” and “our,” but I’m including moderates as well. If you’re a conservative Republican, I don’t care if I am leaving you out of my assumptions. I’m not sure why you’re reading, but hello! I wish you no harm. 

    Nasty, Brutish, and Short

    What else is new? 

    Oh, my God. Here’s a “gray-haired man” in Conway, Arkansas, who stood up from the audience to speak at a school district meeting about transgender issues. According to The Advocate, the guy called GLBTs “depraved.”

    “They invent ways of doing evil. But let me remind you that those who do such things deserve death,” he said, reading from notes. “The LGBT community not only continues to do these very things, but also approves of those who practice them.” The room erupted in cheers and boos.

    The school board went on to restrict bathrooms to people’s sex at birth and also ordered sports teams to make sure all the kids stayed in hotel rooms with non-transgendered roommates. Or, if I understand them correctly, if a transgender boy is on the team, he’ll have to stay in a room with the girls. Likewise, a trans-girl will bunk with the boys. Do these people ever think things through?

    For good measure, the board also banned a couple of GLBT books, Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin and Felix Ever After, a young adult novel by Kacen Callender,

    The local state senator for Conway, Jason Rapert, told The Arkansas Times: “For the first time in my entire representation in the Arkansas Senate have I ever felt led to come and speak at a school board meeting. I am proud of the school board members.” 

    I’m aware that Mr. Rapert’s comment does not scan grammatically, but I think we know what he’s trying to say. All in all, the meeting sounds like an ugly business, conducted by cruel people with narrow minds and mean little hearts. Shame on them.

    GLBT Fortnight in Review
    Published on October 20, 2022