What the Devil won't tell you
It's not CFUSD's fault if kids won't discuss gender identity with parents
"Thud... thud... thud... thud..."
Oh, sorry. I was just banging my head against the wall thinking maybe I can scramble enough brain cells to think like these folks that can't shut up about pronouns.
The Catalina Foothills Unified School District Governing Board canceled a meeting last week, fearing violence over pronouns, transgender students and parental rights. The board needs to listen to the community and then ignore the voices that think transgender kids are just messed up in the head.
The school district's decision to reschedule the meeting for Friday and cancel the call to the audience section was far from inspired.
But the winner of the "Who Says I Need Inpatient Therapy? Award for the second quarter of 2023 belongs to the people who look at the world today and say "The problem is the pronouns."
It was U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker who put it best: "I don't even know what the heck is a pronoun, I can tell you that. I'm sick and tired of this pronoun stuff." Here's a hint. "I" is a pronoun. He used a pronoun three times denouncing pronouns.
I need a Bud Light.
I can't speak to life as a transgender kid but their fight is our fight. If you don't think it's yours, you are crazy. A relentless political quest to identify and destroy enemies won't stop once one enemy is vanquished. History has shown us how this movie plays out. Everyone is an enemy who fails to follow very specific orthodoxy as prescribed by propoganda and demagogues.
On the other hand, as much as we find those folks annoying, they have a right to participate in democracy. Let them talk. Let them shout. Let them scream. Give them a chance to make legitimate points.
The upscale district won't say which side threatened the violence last week but the fight started when a list of names of kids who wanted to be identified by certain pronouns was supposedly withheld from parents.
On March 2, a Rhode Island political activist named Nicole Salas tweeted an email reminding faculty and staff to keep the list private. The first line of the tweet read "More schools keeping information from parents."
Orange Grove Middle School Principal Mark Rubin Toles wrote the email back in 2021. District leaders criticized the email when confronted about it, even though they shouldn't have.
Well, a local group calling themselves CFSD Concerned Citizens, with cheerleading by right-wing radio host Garrett Lewis, went full re ... card.
On April 4, the woke hunters stalked their prey at a board meeting about the policy of keeping pronouns private.
On April 11, the LGBTQ crowd and their allies struck back, packing the school school board meeting with allies who supported the policy.
Tuesday, Team Rage was set to deliver their counter-counter arguments. Then the district canceled the meeting but wouldn't provide details or explanations, feeding fears the violence concerns were a "hoax."
I think I share the same question about pronouns as most of America. Who the frak really cares? This is what has Kid Rock shooting at consumer products? Kids who go their own way as they grow into adults and don't feel comfortable talking to their parents about it. And?
That's between mom and dad.
Of course, it's not just any kids. It's transgender kids. I mean the hatred that these kids (kids!) harkens back to what the early Ku Klux Klan had against newly freed slaves. Why are they turning their hate on kids?
CFSD Concerned Citizens seem sweet and innocent when they are seeking petition signatures on their website.
"We, the people of Catalina Foothills School District, believe ALL students have the equal right to parental nurturing regardless of their status. CFSD's current discriminatory practice of maintaining secrets for a certain group of students erodes equality, dissolves trust, undermines parental authority, and invades the most personal aspects of healthy child-rearing which ought to be solely between parent and child."
Nothing – naaaaaddddaaaa – in the district policy prevents parents from asking their kids "are you using a different name or gender pronoun in school?" These parents who are alarmed at the policy can ask the question of their own children. If they thought they could talk to you, they would.
How is it the district's problem if parents make that seem impossible?
If I'm a liberal social studies teacher and a student confides to me "Mr. Molock, don't tell my hippie parents I'm leaning right," it's not my job to call up Mr. and Mrs. Moonbeam and say "your kid believes capital shouldn't be taxed!" I'd feel terrible if that kid hat to meditate about empathy while drinking soy milk.
Lewis' April 12 ranted against a parent who addressed the Catalina Foothills board the day before. The woman, whom I won't name, said she wants to know if her kid was suicidal or using fentanyl but she's glad that the district has educators kids can confide in about certain personal issues.
For this, Lewis called her "psychotic."
"She’s so crazy that when it comes to if her kid is suicidal, if her kid is gonna use drugs she needs to know. But if her kid wants to — if it’s a son, y’know, lop it off or is so mentally ill that he thinks he’s a woman, I don’t need to know. I’m glad my kid can keep a secret from me with someone at the school. Why don’t you just turn your child over to the school?"
Golly, Garrett. I wonder why a kid would have any trouble telling a parent like you that they are questioning their gender? Could it be that you would just accuse your child of a mental illness?
It's your responsibility as a parent to build a relationship where your kid can talk to you.
It's a far cry from all kids having "equal rights to parental nurturing about their status" as LGBTQ.
There are consequences to hatred. If a kid is too scared to tell mom and dad important information about how they see themselves, that's a consequence of bad parenting.
No kid is going to get a gender-affirming surgery in Arizona without a parent's OK. That surgery isn't performed on underage children. And if they do, Garrett, you'll notice.
Some kids just don't want to deal with dads responding "You think you're transgender? I'll give you transgender!"
No wonder the kids demand the rights to remain silent at home.
When parents have no rights
Ah, but the issue isn't hatred, it's "parents' rights," they claim.
No it isn't. They have no use for parents rights. They in no way respect my right to take my kid to a story hour that broadens a child's horizon about all the people in their neighborhood.
Transgender people and drag performers are not the same thing. What they share is a target on their back, placed there by people like Lewis and the flock over at the the Bridge Christian Church (formerly "the Cool Church").
And if there's a target on their back, how long before there's one on the rest of ours?
Lewis applauded Amy McAllister, wife of Bridge Church pastor David McCallister, for her efforts to get a March 25 drag queen story hour canceled at a local Bookman's.
Notice, they didn't call for a boycott of Bookman's by the Bridge Church members. They made sure no parents could decide of their free will to take in the event. McAllister canceled it for everyone because she said children were being "sexualized" and "groomed."
Uhhh. No they weren't. So if they get away with lying about drag queens, they can get away with lying about the rest of us.
Some people are just terrified about what they don't understand. They don't understand much. So they're scared all the time. Fear plays tricks on the mind and fear is constantly scamming their thoughts with lies.
Then we all have to obey the voices in their heads. Score a blow for freedom, right?
Then again, these are the same voices that argue against transgender medical care, no matter what the parents say. Which is it? Parents' rights or some parent's power to tell all other parents how to behave? Thought so.
The voters have spoken, loudly
As a white, cisgender parent of a kid who went to school in the district, I don't want the Proud Boys taking over school boards. Most of us don't and the voters in the CFUSD sure as hell don't.
In 2022, a slate of candidates for the CatFoot school board ran as a team promising to fight the woke and protect parents rights.
Those three candidates got worked. Destroyed. Savaged. It was like a Denver Bronco Super Bowl from the 1980s.
They lost two to one.
Elections have consequences. So, no, they do not speak for anything like the majority of voters or the Catalina Foothills community. Hell, one of the ringleaders lives in Rhode Island.
The district needs to be upfront about the exact nature of the threat. Information vacuums always bred suspicion. Come clean; let the community know what happened.
CFSD Concerned Citizens' request/demand that the district explain how it comes up with these policies withholding information is absolutely legitimate. The public has a right to know how policy is made.
Forgive my political incorrectness
I will argue that it is the legitimate role of government and the schools to protect kids' rights from the grip of malign parents because education is a fundamental right in Arizona belonging to the person being educated. That's the kid. Not ma and pa.
I hate to break it to these people, but parents have never been free to decide the terms of first communion or confirmation. The church does. Parents aren't the ones who give their child a diploma or degree. The state or institution has that job. Dad can't tell the state: Give my kid a driver's license. The Motor Vehicle Division does that.
Here in America, though, things are different. We believe in individual liberty, right? Exactly.
How do we teach liberty, while telling children they are wholly owned subsidiaries of their parents, absent free will and predestined to obey? Yes, that goes for liberal parents, too.
The anti-trans hysteria looks to be backfiring, anyway. The public still has reservations but trangender kids are in a much better spot today than gays were when they wanted to get married not so long ago.
Right wingers aren't just seeking "reasonable restrictions" on the trans community. They don't think transgender friends and neighbors have a legitimate place in the community. Why else go volcanic over Bud Light because the spare prince of beers dared to market to the trans community?
Voters really have a finely attuned "Go-too-far-a-meter." Denying human legitimacy is a fast way to trip that wire.
No one will affect a child's development like their parents. Some just have to come to grips with reality. Outside voices will influence their child's development, opinion and identity. Teachers are going to be some of them.
It's good to have another adult to talk to about perspectives, and that grown up should not be required to go running to mom and dad shouting "do you know what your kid said?"
As a parent, I understand the desire to be ayatollah. "Because I said so" was always a perfectly fine rationale for any number of directives.
However, I also had a right-wing Mormon publisher who talked to me once about how his son was living life and making choices contrary to dad's wishes. Then it struck this publisher that his kid was responsible and decent.
It's when he said it hit him: Kids don't exist for the glory or edification of the parents. They exist as individuals seeking that glory on their terms. Best bit of parenting advice I ever got, says the very proud dad of a MAGA kid.
God bless America.
Blake Morlock is an award-winning columnist who worked in daily journalism for more than 25 years and is the former communications director for the Pima County Democratic Party. Now he’s telling you what the Devil won’t.