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Have compassion for gender dysphoric youth
Public Forum.jpg

To the editor:

It was revealed on Wednesday of last week that our senator, Roger Marshall, was the lead author of a letter asking that TV ratings let parents know “whether a show contains content related to sexual orientation or gender identity.” The Marshall-authored letter mentioned that “gender dysphoria has become sensationalized in the popular media and television” and that “radical and sexual sensation not only harms children, but also destabilizes and damages parental rights.”   

“Transgender and gender non-conforming youth face challenges at home, at school, in foster care, and in juvenile justice systems,” according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. These children are NOT harming, destabilizing, nor damaging anyone. The truth is that they are at higher risk of violence and suicide. They are the ones who feel unsafe. Coincidentally, it was also reported last week that a 15-year-old runaway transgender foster child was found dead in Kansas City.    

Instead of sensationalizing and demonizing transgender youth as a “danger” to parents and families, maybe we should be determining ways in which we can support them as beloved children of God, support their families and our communities to make sure all children are safe. Parents have always had the ‘right’ to monitor the TV their children watch and to discuss their beliefs with their children at the dinner table. Perhaps a better headline in the KC Star for Sen. Marshall would have been “How Can We Help Prevent More Transgendered Youth From Dying” instead of “Kansas senator demands TV rating update so parents can shield kids from LGBTQ characters.”  Demonizing these children may get votes but it is not the answer for keeping them safe.  

I am a retired public school teacher of 38 years. I have three children and eight grandchildren. Saturday I attended a dinner (planned before the knowledge of this letter) at my church supporting students at our high school who are in the LGBTQ/GLSEN organization (an organization that strives to provide support “to improve the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people”). Our church offered the use of our building and rallied around them providing an amazing potluck dinner. We believe that these children are already at enough risk. We also believe that our parental rights are NOT being threatened. We believe that government officials should strive to protect these children at risk, not demonize them and put them at even greater risk.

We must remember that Sen. Marshall is talking about children of God in this letter. To single them out, to demonize them, is harmful. We should demand that our legislators let parents do the job of monitoring what their children watch and teaching them their family values. But we also need to demand that our country does a better job of protecting children who are different, children in abusive situations, children who are in foster care, because in the end they are all children of God.   

Lynne Hunter