Politics

GOP senator calls lesbian educator “a joke” because she doesn’t have kids. Her response was awesome.

Randi Weingarten
Randi WeingartenPhoto: American Federation of Teachers

A lesbian educator had harsh words for a Republican senator who said that she doesn’t know anything about teaching because she never gave birth.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) was on Fox News yesterday, talking about how Randi Weingarten – the out gay president of the American Federation of Teachers – was campaigning for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race.

Related: Rep. Mondaire Jones calls out Republicans’ “racist trash” arguments in fiery House speech

“Randi Weingarten is a joke,” Cotton said. “Randi Weingarten does not even have children of her own. What in the hell does she know about raising and teaching kids?”

“In fact, that’s probably why she was perfectly fine to shut down schools for two years and force kids to wear masks, because she didn’t have to deal with it at home,” he said.

It’s unlikely that being a parent makes someone anti-mask; parents of small children like White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and actor Hilary Duff have no problem with facemasks in the face of a deadly pandemic.

LGBTQ people are less likely to be parents, partly because of institutional discrimination against same-sex parents that continues today. The Census Bureau found last year that about 15% of same-sex couples had at least one child under the age of 18, less than half of the 38% of opposite-sex couples that have a minor child.

There is also bias against LGBTQ teachers. The first anti-LGBTQ campaign in the U.S. targeted gay teachers, accusing them of pedophilia simply for wanting to keep their jobs. Today, LGBTQ teachers often face dismissal if they’re honest about their identities and almost one-third of Americans say that they would be uncomfortable with their kids having an LGBTQ teacher.

Weingarten shot back at Cotton, pointing out that there is a long history of teachers who didn’t have children.

“Is he now disqualifying every nun from teaching?” she tweeted. “Or is this simply a new divisive & hateful homophobic slur against LGBTQ teachers?”

“I guess Sen Cotton hasn’t done his homework and doesn’t know I have step-children, grandkids & nieces and nephews,” she continued. “They would certainly be surprised by his comments. As would the many students I taught (and loved) at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn.”

She stressed that teachers are professionals who work with children, which is not the same thing as being a parent. “Parents everywhere rely on [teachers’] expertise,” she wrote.

“Parents and educators are partners, and must work together to help our kids thrive… stop the dog whistles Tom and help us help our kids recover,” Weingarten concluded.

“Tom Cotton is the only joke here,” said Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis. Both Pride at Work, which represents LGBTQ union members, and the American Federation of Teachers are affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

“Randi Weingarten is a trained educator who spent more than six years in the classroom before her election into union leadership. Since 1997, her union peers – mostly teachers in actual classrooms – have elected her into leadership repeatedly, including being elected multiple times as president of the more than 1.6 million AFT educators.”

“Would Cotton have used this attack if Weingarten were straight?”

 

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