To coin an overused phrase, "it's a story as old as the hills."
- An alleged incident (usually involving kids) takes place which seemingly puts the LGBTQ community in a negative light.
- There is a overinflated media controversy instigated and exploited by right-wing entities and 'concerned parents' which dominates the airwaves. But when it's all said and done, the controversy generally turns out to be nothing. But the damage is done.
- There are no apologies, right-wing entities slink away whistling nonchalantly with their hands in their pockets, suddenly the concerned parents aren't so concerned, and the LGBTQ community and their allies are left to pick up the pieces after being attacked, insulted, and lied on with no apology or recompensement of any type forthcoming.
And then the cycle repeats itself.
Case in point, a a recent situation at a school in California.
According to a Feb 19th issue of The Los Angeles Blade:
A three-day overnight science camp for fifth-grade girls in the San Bernardino Mountains near Running Springs has erupted in controversy after a group of parents found out that non-binary counselors slept in the same cabins. A group of parents of students at Weaver Elementary School in Los Alamitos are upset with the Los Alamitos Unified School District after their children informed them that “biologically male counselors,” who use they/them pronouns, were sleeping in the same cabins as the girls.KTLA 5 reported that one parent Rachel Sandoval, said:“I contacted the school and asked them if they were able to confirm that there was not a man actually sleeping in the same cabin as the girls. They were not able to confirm that.” The parents told the station that they weren’t alleging that a crime was committed just that the omission of the policy of the camp was not disclosed. Speaking with KTLA, Emmi Teige, the assistant director of Camp Pali said, “Per California law, we place staff in cabins they identify with.”
Notice the statement Sandoval claimed she put to the school - “I contacted the school and asked them if they were able to confirm that there was not a man actually sleeping in the same cabin as the girls. They were not able to confirm that.”
The manner in which she phrased her concern to KTLA makes it automatically sound as if school officials were hiding something or were inept. The truth is probably based upon policy, the school couldn't give her a definitive answer at the time she reportedly asked. With a situation that serious, I'm guessing that school officials would have had to investigate before giving anyone any definitive answer.
As it was, neither Sandoval nor any of the other parents had to allege that any crime was committed. That detail was conveniently left up to various members of the right-wing media. The allegations caused a firestorm with many on the right extrapolating and manipulating parental fears with false allegations complete with lurid headlines (Editor's note - the headlines below are accurate but I will not provide a link to any of it):
Parents Enraged After School Allows Biological Male “Transgender” Counselors to Share Cabins with Young Girls at Science CampWATCH: PARENTS OUTRAGED TO LEARN BIOLOGICAL MALE CAMP COUNSELORS SLEEPING IN SAME CABIN AS FIFTH GRADE GIRLSNon-binary biological male counselors allowed to sleep in fifth-grade girls' cabins at science campParents are furious after biological male, non-binary counselors slept in rooms with little girls
With school officials not being able to give an answer before a complete investigation but the parents and the right-wing media free to do interview after interview or twist the situation, false stories were bound to fly wide and far before truth even came out.
And now comes the hook. According to KTLA, the school district investigated and found the following:
. . . on Monday, a spokesperson sent KTLA a statement indicating there had been no biologically male counselors in shared cabins with female students at the camp that they are aware of.“While counselors may have used the pronouns, they/them, the use of these pronouns is not restricted to biological males. Biological females also use those term,” the statement read. “Pali Institute is an equal opportunity employer and always has been, with diversity and inclusion among its core values. Its commitment to diversity and inclusion applies equally to its students. Pali Institute’s priority is and always has been to ensure the health, welfare, and safety of its students, with strict rules and guidelines that govern staff interaction with students.”
It's convenient that the complaining parents said that they weren't alleging that a crime was committed but have a problem with camp policy. That "cover your ass" statement allows them to continue to attack school officials and the camp for its policy. As if the policy was the problem instead of their ignorance and hysteria.
And it also allows the far right to continue to rile up rage about schools and LGBTQ people.
The Los Angeles Blade also said:
The Los Alamitos Unified School District has had LGBTQ+ issues escalate previous to this incident. Tensions ran high in the Los Alamitos Unified School District after parents learned that a teacher at Oak Middle School at the start of the school year asked his students to let him know what their preferred pronouns are during classes.. . . The battle over the use of pronouns in the Los Alamitos Unified School District is reflective of controversies in thousands of school districts across the United States over the past 14 months, driven in part by severe disagreements over requirements for face masks and vaccinations to battles over the rights of Transgender students.