Blocked.

You may have seen or heard it by now, but there is an account on twitter going around blocking members of the LGBTQIA+ community, even before ever interacting with them. I’m not going to name the account, I’m not going to give them that exposure, but you should know if you are even a casual user of the platform like myself. Now, I know some queer people who have clearly flown under the radar of this account, and it’s down to one thing:

If you are a user who would tweet about LGBTQIA+ rights, events, laws, achievements or issues, you were going to be blocked. If you seldom mentioned them , you weren’t worth their time.

But why were they blocking people without ever interacting with them? The answer is somewhat simple to gleam – by blocking people and posting misinformation about LGBTQIA+ relationships lessons, they were creating a one-sided narrative. That narrative could gain traction and go unopposed because the people most likely to call them out on it, would never be able to see the posts.

What benefit does that have though? Well, it comes out of the protests outside primary schools, and the user claims to be a “British Parent” with very “real concerns” that the inclusion of same-sex families and relationships in lessons has crossed the line into “indoctrination”. The language in that little biography is very clever and to anyone from the outside looking in, it could cause real concern. It plays on the idea that these parents are the victims and that they are having their poor children snatched from them, as if the Child Snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has just rolled into town offering queer lollipops, candy canes, and chocolate.

There has been an increase in people using certain language in order to paint a picture for people lately, and it is all very political. Take Trump and his use of the word “infested” when it comes to areas that are predominantly home to people of colour – it’s clever wording to bring about imagery of unclean habitats which has been used throughout history.

So shall we look at the word “indoctrination”? It is often a word used for groups that are seen as cultist or perverse in some way. Like people shouldn’t be exposed to these things, yet they relentlessly keep taking people in. It harkens to the ideas that as a community, we recruit members, rather than they just exist and we exist together. The imagery along with children gives a sense that they are being brainwashed and that there is nothing these poor parents can do to help them be as bigoted as they are.

There is a concept in philosophy called “tabula rasa”. It is a term that loosely translates to “blank slate” and is used in developmental psychology to argue the nature vs nurture debate. This concept is pretty much firmly in the nurture side of the debate. It however, it often used to describe children and how they are blank slates, shaped by the world around them rather than being born with any innate knowledge. They learn behaviours and information from experiences and their environment.

This concept is often used to explain many bad things, but here we can use it to discuss both sides of things. You see, whilst the children at primary school are often a little too late into the blank slate stage, they are still impressionable, and I completely understand that. However, they have had 5-6 years being surrounded by family members and the big-wide world. These family members that are currently causing a fuss obviously hold some kind of view that I don’t personally agree with and some others don’t either, but the child hadn’t yet picked up on these things. Sometimes they do, it’s unavoidable, but what do they see at home?

Most likely they see a heteronormative family unit with a mother and father, and only ever experience that for five years. Yet, when they’re at school somehow, they forget that because a teacher is telling them that not every family is made up of a mother and a father. They could have two mothers, or two fathers. They could just have a mother and no father, or a father and no mother – but there is no issue with that apparently.

We live in a diverse world, and the world has shaped each and every one of us. The idea that children are blank slates is valid for the most part, but like I said, they spend 5-6 years at home learning from their family, then they go to school. Yes, they are then in education for 10-11 years where they will learn plenty of things, but being a respectful person should definitely be taught. Teaching these things means that in a generation, we could remove things like racism, transphobia and homophobia.

Holding people to ransom and removing a side of the argument is somewhat pointless, but it’s an act that has gained traction very, very quickly. I keep saying that it is due to our current political landscape and I fully stand behind that. People have been emboldened to be phobic to many different people because people have run entire campaigns on those kinds of behaviours. But I will say one final thing:

As a queer person, if I was told in school that there were people like me, I wouldn’t have hidden for so long. I wouldn’t have hurt people by being in relationships with them, holding back a secret. I probably wouldn’t have been bullied so much because everyone would know that I was valid as the person I was. Instead, I got jokes and odd looks, and homosexuality was also the best thing to poke fun at from teachers and students. I am gay because I was born that way, I wasn’t taught it in school, and I really didn’t see it anywhere until my teens. Being taught it in school wasn’t going to make me any different, it would have just made my life easier.

I wouldn’t have gotten into trouble for fights. I wouldn’t have contemplated suicide when I was young because I was so different. I wouldn’t have cut myself to see if that would make me feel better.

This is not a fight about being able to recruit people. It is a fight about our basic existence in this world. It is about saying we are here, and it’s perfectly fine to be this way – you can be happy being who you are.

Holding protests, creating accounts online, harassing people, revealing personal information, spreading misinformation and taking items out of context will only harm people. And saying it is your right to free speech is correct, but you must understand you are fully accountable for the things you say and the reaction you get. It is not about being a snowflake, it is about standing up for the existence of people.

Now is the real test of allies around the world. Do they stand up with us, or do they take the side of a concerned parent? It is times like this when the attack is coming from their side of the orientation spectrum that they have to stand up and say to people “you’re not right about this” and I am hopefully they do. Silence still equals death, even in 2019…

Silence equals death because LGBTQIA+ people are still kidnapped and incarcerated in concentration camps in Chechnya. A website was created in Russia with personal information and addresses of LGBTQIA+ people, where people were encouraged to find these people and harm or kill them in the name of a game. A pride parade in Poland was met with fierce phobic behaviour. It’s getting serious. It’s getting bad. And this is how things start, when allies say and do nothing.

Persistence. Resistance. Insistance. Disobedience. Existence.

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