Living in one of the most socially liberal states in the country, many Vermonters watch with horror as other parts of the country seem stuck in the social values of bygone eras.
In some parts of the country, it seems, the push for civil rights for all is going backward. Take North Carolina and its new transgender bathroom law that requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds to their birth genitalia, for example.
Hold that thought for a moment and consider Harwood Union, our local high school, where an HU Queer-Straight Alliance meets weekly to work toward making the school, the community and the world a safer, more accepting place. And note that Governor Shumlin signed into law this week a statute that bans conversion therapy in Vermont. Conversion therapy seeks to change a minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Read the report in this week’s issue about Harwood’s Queer Straight Alliance and read the ease with which teenagers discuss the tangibles and intangibles of being straight or gay or trans or somewhere on the spectrum. Then consider that these kids – like kids all over the nation and the world – are already over the things that had people’s knickers in a twist in the 1980s and 1990s.
In the same way that most Americans support equal treatment for all regardless of race, creed or color, the teenagers of today grew up accepting sexual orientation and identities as a simple matter of human rights. Today’s teens are the grown-ups of tomorrow and our future legislators and leaders.
They’re over it and the white-haired dinosaurs who rage about gay marriage and pass laws about trans people using bathrooms are going to age right out of relevance in the coming years, much the same way those who supported Jim Crow laws aged out as well. They expired, along with their political viewpoints.
Today’s kids are uninterested in other people’s sex lives, orientations and gender identities other than to support and accept them. They are a credit to their parents, their community and our educators.
That’s progress, folks. Slow though it is, take hope.