Politics

Joe Biden wonders if Supreme Court would stop states from banning LGBTQ students from school

Joe Biden, inauguration, first year, LGBTQ achievements
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President Joe Biden warned that “this MAGA crowd” is “the most extreme political organization… in recent American history” and could be planning to keep LGBTQ students out of classrooms.

“What happens,” he said, if “a state changes the law saying that children who are LGBTQ can’t be in classrooms with other children? Is that legit under the way the decision is written?”

Related: Portia de Rossi thought she killed her 99-year-old grandmother when she came out

Biden has reason to ask. Florida’s recently passed Don’t Say Gay law bans discussions of “sexual orientation or gender identity” in younger grades and states that such discussions have to be “developmentally appropriate” in older grades. Instead of defining those terms, the law gives parents the right to sue school districts if they feel the law has been violated.

Supporters of the bill have called opponents groomers and pedophiles, arguing that any discussion of LGBTQ people in the presence of children is a form of child abuse. Rightwing pundits have been calling LGBTQ people who talk about their personal lives with children as groomers and pedophiles as well, saying that coming out is a sexually-charged statement that children shouldn’t be hearing.

Some LGBTQ teachers have lost their jobs as the far-right portrays them as child molesters, and Republican politicians have been attacking the rights of LGBTQ – and especially transgender – youth with laws to curtail their rights and access to medical care. Republican leaders and activists have attacked LGBTQ youth suicide efforts, saying that talking to LGBTQ young people who may be considering suicide is a form of child abuse.

This comes with the right’s longstanding opposition to LGBTQ-targeted anti-bullying measures. 58% of LGBTQ students who were planning not to finish high school cited a hostile school environment as a reason for dropping out, and students who faced more anti-LGBTQ harassment at school were more likely to drop out, according to a GLSEN study.

That is, large parts of the “MAGA crowd” already believe that LGBTQ people existing in the presence of minors are a threat and have shown that they are willing to attack LGBTQ youth and their rights. Moreover, many of these same people want to stop efforts to prevent anti-LGBTQ bullying or LGBTQ youth suicide.

Biden was specifically talking about Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which showed that the Court has already voted to overturn Roe v. Wade and end reproductive freedom in the U.S. The opinion also says that – like the right to an abortion – neither the right to marriage equality (Obergefell v. Hodges) nor the right to privacy in one’s bedroom (Lawrence v. Texas) have “any claim to being deeply rooted in history,” leading many to believe that the Court could overturn those decisions as well and allow states to pass laws to regulate marriage and private, consensual sex acts.

It’s in that context that Biden asked if the Supreme Court would stop a state from passing a law that simply bans LGBTQ students from attending public schools if they come out and forces them to attend separate schools.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed a question about Biden’s comments at yesterday’s White House press briefing, saying that Biden “has been struck” by “the direction of some in the Republican Party, the MAGA direction of some in the Republican Party.”

“What we’re seeing – the latest antics make clear that they are at war with Mickey Mouse, they’re against allowing women to make choices about their own healthcare, against lowering the cost of prescription drugs,” Psaki said. “And if that remains their platform, the president’s view is: that is out of whack with the mainstream of the country.”

She was referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) war on Disney after Disney released a statement opposing that state’s Don’t Say Gay law. Florida Republicans passed a law to remove certain self-governance benefits Disney received in the state, a move that has already led to a lawsuit against the state.

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