Guest editorial: We are your LGBTQ children and merely tolerating us is not enough
It’s taken me a long time to decide how best to write this letter. I almost decided not to, but the issue was too important to ignore. Now, the fires of this particular debate have died a bit, but the underlying issue still persists. The Welcoming Schools initiative stirred quite a scandal in recent months. The problem, as some parents saw it, was that the initiative strives to provide an accepting environment for children from all backgrounds and its tenant of embracing the differences of the children in our community. The issue, as it was stated by these parents, was that this was LGBTQ indoctrination. There is a narrative that tolerance for these differences should be enough. Tolerance has never been enough.
As an LGBTQ person growing up in Park City I have been personally deeply hurt by a community that at times only tolerates my existence. These debates do not happen in a vacuum. The people you debate overhear you. We hear you and it burns us because we are your children. Much of the reason for this debate in the first place is that one side has decided that all things LGBTQ are inappropriate for children. They have decided that we are inherently perverse, sexual, even monstrous and inappropriate for children. Anything beyond the acknowledgment of gender or sexual identity that deviate from the norm is automatically an attempt to indoctrinate children or twist community morals. You ignore the fact that some of us are your children, or else your neighbors. We are not oblivious to the way you see us. We are used to the bite of tolerance. We are allowed to exist, in some places, but never accepted. Only tolerated.
Of course, this community has at times been as accepting of LGBTQ as it has been condemning. There have been wonderful opportunities for outreach and opportunity. In recent years, Park City High School has been one of the most accepting institutes and there have been great bounds in inclusion even since I graduated. Many religious organizations in Park City, to my personal surprise, have also been incredibly welcoming. Of course, there have been individuals within the community who have championed the LGBTQ cause on both the family and community scale.
However, I fear that we as a community have become too comfortable with the idea of only tolerating those who differ from the norm. Recently the debate in this town has been shifted to accepting people regardless of their political views. The issue of whether we accept people for more fundamental differences has fallen by the wayside. Scientifically speaking, politics is a choice. Being LGBTQ is not. Despite this, the debate of late has centered around respecting each other’s politics without acknowledging that some of these politics place themselves in opposition to people who are LGBTQ. In recent editorials trans people have been slandered for being mentally ill and abhorrent while commenters cry about their politics not being respected. No one to my knowledge has spoken of how this is a hateful attack on an LGBTQ identity. No, the issue is that we can not tolerate each other’s politics, not that one side is spreading misinformation and hate about a minority group.
My existence and the existence of many people in the LGBTQ community have become inherently political. I am something to be debated over, judged and objectified. I can not get away from this when even in my home town there is an argument over whether or not I, and people like me, belong. I know these debates will continue, I’ve lived long enough to see that, but I implore you, next time you decide to debate over whether LGBTQ people have a place in our schools and community, remember that we see you. We hear your debates over our humanity. We are your children too, and we hope that someday you may accept us as such.
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