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Children: The Victims of Broken, Bigoted, and Useless Laws and Rulings

Child in a classroom looking sad

LGBTQ+ youth, marginalized girls, children of gay parents, and elementary school kids are all in constant danger because of political selfishness.

If you are a teenager struggling with the fact that you're transgender, and you only know fear because all you hear from your state government is how immoral you are, what can you do? You can feel horribly lost, alone, and loathsome. You are a political soccer ball being kicked to death -- metaphorically and literally. You feel as if no one gives a crap about you.

If you are a preteen who was raped by your father or a transgender boy who was raped by a transphobe, and you are being forced to carry your pregnancy to term despite the tremendous anguish you will go through, what recourse do you have? Who do you trust to turn to when you feel like the criminal instead of the victim? You are a pawn for activist judges from the 19th century who claim to be "pro-life" but care nothing about your life. You are scum to them, while if their children become pregnant as a result of rape, they are secretly afforded the best care in the world.

If you are in school and have two moms or two dads, and you must keep it a secret, who can you talk to about your loving parents? Will you be arrested because you accidentally let slip that your two moms took you to the carnival? Who can you trust? No one, because one politician is making you feel illegitimate and not normal all because he wants to be president. You are but a callous political platform point for him to use to manipulate fear of your family.

If you are a child with two dads or two moms, there's another target on your back. Since 2015, moms and moms and dads and dads could marry, and they could have children together as a married couple. They could be a legitimate family -- at least what society calls legitimate. There's nothing for you, as the child, to fear, right? The Supreme Court and state legislatures are starting the process of unwinding same-sex marriage. They could give a rat's ass that your family will be devastatingly torn apart because those who sleep with the same sex are a blight on an all-white, all-straight, all Anglo-Saxon society.

If you are in elementary school, paying attention to your teacher and doing your best to memorize your times tables, you are always looking around suspiciously. You've heard of other school kids being killed by a gunman. Will it happen to you? Do you spend your school days with eyes in the back of your head? Will it ever end? No, that's because you are worth so much less than all that campaign money from the gun lobby that will ensure your local legislator's reelection. The bounty for incumbency is the heads of children.

When a society turns its back on children, then the future of that society is put at severe risk. What America has been doing to its children, most especially in 2022, will come back to haunt us immeasurably, and even more jarring, disrupt the mental and physical health of children for the rest of their lives.

We have become a nation that is partly led by desperate politicians who not only shit on kids but crassly use them as political pawns and reelection weapons even while the weapons are being pointed at children. These mainly white, straight, over-50-year-old men are brazenly attempting to cling to power while they suspend any measures that might protect children.

And yet, whatever we do, it just keeps happening. Anti-LGBTQ+ youth laws -- especially targeting the rights of trans youth -- are surging. As the U.S. Supreme Court gets ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, state governments are tripping over themselves to make abortions illegal even if they result from rape or the health of the pregnant person is at risk.

The next stop for SCOTUS is gay marriage; kids be damned. The word "gay" is being removed from classrooms, LGBTQ+ books from libraries, and critical race theory -- which is nonexistent in schools at this point -- is taboo and U.S. history is perenially whitewashed. And innocent children under 10 are being slaughtered by guns that are as easily accessible as bubble gum -- they are everywhere.

This is all so barbaric.

Imagine yourself as a child sitting in a classroom while a man with an assault rifle and pistol kills your classmates -- in broad daylight -- while behind closed doors the gun lobby writes massive checks to people like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott so he can keep guns on store shelves without restrictions. Abbott had the audacity to mourn for the kids in Uvalde, Texas, yesterday. The fucking nerve of that smug monster. Absolutely astonishing that he had the gall to speak about the death of children when he had a hand in their assassinations.

In response, Beto O'Rourke, who is running against Abbott for governor, went for it and confronted Abbott at his press conference.

And this as his cohort across America's bottom -- literally and figuratively -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis preps for a presidential run by championing getting rid of "gay" in the classroom and supposedly and erroneously protecting kids from "danger." To help seal the deal, people in his circle and those like him use talking points that include the words "pedophile" and "groomer." It just gets sicker and sicker for these Neanderthals.

There seems to be no way to stop these abominations. And it's because Democrats, for way too long, have been afraid to offend the other side, while the other side rolls over them like an autocratic Russian tank.

Democrats! Your enemy might grab "pussy," but you need to be like Beto and fight back hard and loud. We can pass an abortion rights law, commonsense gun laws, and protections for LGBTQ+ kids by dumping the fiasco of the filibuster. What, as President Biden might say, in God's name are you Democrats in Congress doing? Find a way to do the right thing.

Stop with all the words. They mean nothing. Zero. Zilch.

We elected you, the Democrats, as the majority to lead, even if that majority is thin. So lead, fight back, get angry, and stop mimicking sanctimonious Republicans with "thoughts and prayers." Instead, offer something much more powerful than words, like acting now and getting results now, at all costs now. America cannot wait any longer.

What has been happening this year has been building up for years. All this horridness should come as no surprise. And frankly, when these horror stories take place and the media breathlessly reports on them, we're not surprised. And that's not because we know what the hands of the devil Republicans have been methodically concocting. No, we're not surprised because we are so used to hearing about all this treachery, every day, every week, all the time. We form calluses on our brains. Are we really that thoughtless?

We're becoming more immune while our children are becoming more and more in danger. This attack on our kids is like a rare case of measles in the classroom. These diseases just keep popping up, keep growing, keep festering, and keep spreading, as we stand idly by and watch all the dots pop up.

Angry columns like these can allow the writer to vent and the public to fire off angry retorts, yet tomorrow as a new school shooting takes place and all the attention inevitably shifts to the next one, the past is forgotten. Relegated to an anniversary. We'll be back in Uvalde in a year, in five years and 10 years, while that community spends a lifetime in pain picking up the pieces.

And in a year, we'll begin to see the devastation caused by reversing Roe. We will read about the daughters of marginalized communities, people of color, and trans kids who did not survive a back-alley or DIY abortion.

Think of the families who will be forced to wear a metaphorical scarlet letter or who may be jailed because their daughter became pregnant from rape or incest and there was no money for them to get the proper care. These banished families will spend their whole lives trying to repair the damage caused by a broken, discriminatory, and useless government.

And in 10 years, let's watch as kids who were forced to put a lid on their sexuality suffer mightily from mental illness. To cover the pain, they'll resort to drugs, dangerous behavior, and worse: dying by suicide. They'll spend a lifetime trying to repair the damage caused by a broken, discriminatory, and useless government.

The Republicans love to bark that they're all about family and protecting kids. What a bunch of demonic bullshit. They'll watch as the marriage certificates of gay couples turn to ash and the children of these couples face the threat of their families being being torn apart, all because of a broken, discriminatory, and useless government.

And in a year or four years or 10 years, where will we be when we are forced to turn over the keys of this country to the next generation that has been embroiled in danger, lived under constant threat, and besieged by a cruel, calculating, and do-nothing government?

When will it all become too much for us and for our children? When will someone step forward to vanquish all these threats on behalf of the children? Or are we just going to let the children continue to suffer? What have we become? Do we even care what we've become? How are we ever going to save our children?

John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.

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