In a viral TikTok video, queer teacher Drew Evans addressed controversial legislation aimed at the perceived sexualization of children through LGBTQ+ inclusivity in schools, emphasizing that the heart of the issue lies not with LGBTQ+ individuals but rather with certain parents and their misguided perspectives.
The catalyst for Evans' response was a right-wing TikTok video that condemned an LGBTQ+ Pride celebration held at a school. The video depicted children happily skipping beneath a rainbow banner, which was met with the inflammatory caption "This should not be allowed in schools."
This instance is representative of the broader outrage that has swept across the nation in recent years, driven by religious, conservative parents, pundits, and politicians. Their contention is that acknowledging LGBTQ+ individuals, especially those who identify as transgender or are associated with drag artists, sexualizes children.
Evans directly addressed the outrage by questioning the problem with exposing children to the existence of LGBTQ+ people.
You can hear what he said in the video below.
Referring to the aforementioned right-wing TikTok video, Evans said:
"I'm gonna try and be short and sweet about it, okay? I, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and every single person in my community, we are human beings. We're human beings just like you, literally... What is the problem with students and children being exposed to the fact that people like me exist?"
"What is it that I do differently than you?"
"I pay my bills, I have a house, I'm married... I go to work, I go shopping, I eat food... All of these things are things that we have in common... The only thing I can think of that I do differently than you is what I do in the privacy of my bedroom."
Evans went on to say that the association between Pride celebrations and sexual content is not inherent but rather a projection of biased perspectives onto LGBTQ+ individuals. This phenomenon, as Evans points out, is a manifestation of the sexualization inherent in certain adults' perceptions of LGBTQ+ people.
"See, that's not part of a Pride celebration, especially one that has to do with children. That's gross."
"[That] is YOU that is sexualizing MY community. It is YOU that is referring to ME as a sex act or a lifestyle... The only reason you saw it differently is because when you look at me and people in my community, you immediately sexualize us. That is a YOU problem."
Evans noted that the anger displayed by conservative parents who say that schools including LGBTQ+ students violates their parental rights is foolish because they can simply enroll their child in a private school and "sign the opt-out form before school starts."
"You have those choices. Parental rights have always existed. Stop pretending they don't."
Many agreed with Evans' observations.
The opposition to LGBTQ+ inclusivity in schools has intersected with conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, and extremist movements, including far-right Neo-Nazi groups.
These actors have capitalized on concerns about child abuse and trafficking, perpetuating harmful stereotypes that label LGBTQ+ individuals as pedophilic "groomers."
The recent murder of Laura Ann Carleton, a California shop owner who was targeted due to her LGBTQ+ advocacy, serves as a grim reminder of the dangerous escalation of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment, underscoring Evans' point about bad actors' preoccupation with sexualizing LGBTQ+ people and their allies.