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Perspective: All these anti-LGBTQ laws have a purpose -- and it's not to protect kids

Steve Johnson/artbystevej.com

It’s safe to say most of us have heard of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. It’s the infamous bill that launched the Disney v. DeSantis rumble and bans classroom discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation, originally targeted at K through 3rd grade classrooms, but now expanded to target all students through high school graduation. What you may not have heard is that Iowa recently passed its own copycat version of the Florida law.

I grew up in Iowa, in an unofficial “Don’t Say Gay” environment. We didn’t have any laws banning discussions of gender or sexuality, we just…didn’t have those discussions. The weekly airing of a Will and Grace episode was as close as we got to a treatise on gay culture. While I’m grateful to not have grown up with the hatred, homophobia, and threats of hell that I’m sure my more visibly queer childhood friends experienced, for a young queer woman, it took me DECADES longer than it should have to understand myself and my place in this world.

Unofficial bans on LGBTQIA+ topics didn’t keep me straight, they forced me into a box and surgically removed important parts of my identity right at the time when I was discovering who I was. It was like someone tied my right arm behind my back and told me to tread water.

These “Don’t Say Gay” bills aren’t protecting children and they aren’t meant to. They are forcing kids into the closet and forcing shame and self-hatred on a whole new generation and frankly, that’s exactly what they were designed to do.

Lynnea Erickson Laskowski is a former resident (and forever enthusiast) of the DeKalb area. Originally from Iowa, Lynnea moved to DeKalb in 2011 to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. She currently lives in Washington DC with her toothless dog.