Some believe that exposure to the LGBTQ+ community is equivalent to sexualizing children - which makes no sense whatsoever, as Drew Evans pointed out.
In the current landscape, discussions on social media and in mainstream media frequently touch upon the parent protests, prejudiced rhetoric and legislative measures aimed at addressing the alleged sexualization of American school systems and LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly with regard to children. Amidst this backdrop emerges a queer educator who provides a clear and insightful perspective on the matter, highlighting that the issue at hand lies more with parents' perceptions than with the LGBTQ+ community itself.
Drew Evans, known as @realdrewbyg on TikTok, presents a thought-provoking take on the controversy surrounding LGBTQ+ influence in schools. His response is a reaction to a right-wing TikToker's video, wherein schoolchildren are seen passing beneath a rainbow banner during an LGBTQ+ Pride celebration at a school in June. Overlaying the scene is a message demanding parents to remove their children from public schools, accompanied by an emphatic declaration: "This should not be allowed in schools."
Such instances of anti-LGBTQ+ outrage have become increasingly prevalent across the United States, with religious groups, conservative parents, political commentators and policymakers asserting that acknowledging LGBTQ+ individuals—especially transgender individuals, drag artists and school-affiliated personnel—somehow equates to sexualizing children.
This climate has led to a surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative bills, many of which specifically target children, particularly those who identify as transgender. Notably, in places like Florida, these laws expose LGBTQ+ teachers, students and their families to the risk of legal action if their LGBTQ+ identities become known. Tragically, these influences have contributed to baseless accusations against LGBTQ+ individuals, branding them as pedophilic "groomers."
The magnitude of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment has transcended mere "moral panic" and manifested in shocking violence, such as the brutal murder of Laura Ann Carleton, an advocate of LGBTQ+ rights who was fatally shot for displaying a Pride flag outside her California shop. Drew Evans' analysis highlights the irrationality of the uproar over LGBTQ+ influence in schools. He counters the claims by observing that the real issue lies in the tendency of parents to sexualize children, rather than in the LGBTQ+ community's actions.
Reflecting on the video that spurred his response, Evans addresses the fundamental question: "What is the problem?" He eloquently asserts that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are human beings, much like anyone else, emphasizing their shared attributes and experiences. Evans challenges the unfounded concerns about students and children being exposed to the existence of LGBTQ+ individuals, dismantling stereotypes and misconceptions. Evans further dismantles the narrative that LGBTQ+ individuals are somehow distinct from others, highlighting that they engage in commonplace activities like paying bills, maintaining a household, going to work, shopping and enjoying meals. The only aspect that might differentiate LGBTQ+ individuals is their private lives, yet this is a matter that doesn't warrant undue focus.
"I watched this video, and I was trying to figure out what the problem was," he explains. "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."
By dissecting the issue, Evans exposes the fallacy in associating a Pride celebration or the mere presence of LGBTQ+ individuals with sexual connotations. He asserts that the notion of LGBTQ+ inclusivity becoming sexualized is a result of individuals infusing the conversation with sexual undertones. He categorically states that sexualization is not the fault of LGBTQ+ people but rather a projection from those who perceive them in such a manner. Concluding his response, Evans addresses conservative parents' concerns about their perceived infringement of "school choice." He emphasizes the existence of alternatives such as private, parochial, and home schools, noting that parental rights have always been present and should not be denied.
"You can send your kid to a private school, or you can sign the opt-out form before school starts," Evans said. "You have those choices. Parental rights have always existed. Stop pretending they don't."
Ultimately, the essence of Evans' perspective revolves around the realization that LGBTQ+ individuals are just people. The preoccupation with their private lives and the insinuation of sexuality in their presence are issues that stem from external perceptions. Evans effectively invites individuals to reconsider their motivations for imposing sexuality onto their children's experiences and encourages them to cease such behavior.