*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has been received praise for his salient insights on why the Republican Party acts the way it does and why it has recently made attacking the LGBTQ+ community and dismantling LGBTQ+ rights part of its platform.
Much of Buttigieg's criticism centered on Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" law.
Florida’s Republican-sponsored Parental Rights in Education bill, or H.B. 1557, was recently signed into law by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The law, colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, aims to “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner.”
The law wants to prohibit “a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner” and authorizes parents to “bring an action against a school district to obtain a declaratory judgment that a school district procedure or practice violates certain provisions of law.”
Buttigieg issued his remarks during a talk at The University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics last week, where he took Republicans to task for their amplification of culture war issues over actual policymaking.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
"There's a more superficial political pattern that I think has driven some of the politics of the behavior of people like these people in Florida. The 'Don't Say Gay Bill.'"
"And that is, when all you have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a culture war. So you got a political faction that really doesn't have an answer for many of the questions that people are wrestling with."
"They love talking about gas prices but they don't have an answer on gas prices. Never have an answer on inflation. Many of them responded to our call for bipartisan infrastructure work with a 'no.'"
"[We] haven't seen answer on what to do about the price of prescription drugs. They voted against lowering that."
"Don't have answer on what to do about the cost of child care. Don't have a great answer on taxes. Actually want to raise taxes for the poor."
"That's a new one. I thought I'd seen it all, then I saw Senator [Tim] Scott's proposal to raise taxes on the poor."
Buttigieg noted that all of these issues with Republican policymaking–or lackthereof–are "not great territory for them to be debating on."
What they do instead, he said, is "find somebody vulnerable and pick on them, which at the moment is largely the trans community."
"They find something to talk about which can go between the laughable–'Is Donald Duck going to make your kid gay?'–to the incredibly dark, which is the suggestion that the very presence of someone who is gender non-conforming or trans or gay or lesbian or otherwise different, the very existence of somebody like that is very much an adult subject, right?"
"That is my kids, let's say in a first grade classroom were to mention in passing over the weekend that they had a great time going with their dads to the zoo, that they would have somehow by saying that uttered something age inappropriate, and get us really fired up about that fight."
Many have praised Buttigieg for his observations and offered further criticisms of Republicans for pushing discriminatory legislation.
Buttigieg has criticized the "Don't Say Gay" legislation on other occasions.
He has been emphatic in his belief that the bill is "dangerous legislation" that could result in more suicides among LGBTQ+ kids, noting that it "tells youth who are different or whose families are different that there’s something wrong with them out of the gate."
Buttigieg has said that Republicans are not in fact as "pro-family" as their party members like to claim because it should not be inappropriate at any age "to talk about a kid’s mom and mom or dad and dad or whatever family structure we live with."
Buttigieg's husband, educator and activist Chasten Buttigieg, has also been critical of the legislation, pointing out that that LGBTQ+ people and their families have often been used as scapegoats throughout history and that the legislation would "push LGBTQ families away and into the closet."
Adding that the bill would "kill kids," he went on to cite statistics from The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth, that noted that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged 10 to 24 and that 42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
LGBTQ+ Youth can get help through:
- TrevorChat — 24/7/365 at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
- TrevorLifeline — phone service available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386
- TrevorText — Text “START” to 678678. Available 24/7/365.
- TrevorSpace — online international peer-to-peer community for LGBTQ young people and their friends at https://www.trevorspace.org/
- Trevor Support Center — LGBTQ youth & allies can find answers to FAQs and explore resources at https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/trevor-support-center/#sm.0000121hx9lvicotqs52mb1saenel