Monday, April 29, 2024

TX: Greg Abbott Wants Teachers To Dress Regular

Correspondent Steve Monacelli of the Texas Observer turned up a clip of Texas Governor Greg Abbott at the Young Conservatives of Texas convention in Dallas, splaining how folks ought to dress. 
In Lewisville, Texas… just a month ago, they had a high school teacher, who is a man, who would go to school dressed as a woman in a dress, high heels and makeup. Now, what do you think is going through their minds of the students that are in that classroom? Are they focusing on the subject that that person's trying to teach? I don't know. What I do know are these two things. One is this person--a man, dressing as a woman--in a public high school in the state of Texas--he's trying to normalize the concept. "This type of behavior is okay." This type of behavior is NOT okay! And this is the type of behavior that we want to make sure we end in the state of Texas.

Now, as with many moments of culture panic, this one has some factual issues. As Wayne Carter reported for Channel 5, what actually happened was that students encouraged a popular chemistry teacher to dress up for a spirit day. Students laughed, life went on. But then someone put a picture of the teacher on line, and all culture panic hell broke loose. The school district did a policy review and determined that no dress-up day rules had been broken, but so many folks decided to release a barrage of hateful and threatening comments that the teacher resigned. 

Carter spoke to students ("He's never brought his sexuality or any of his political ideas into his teaching. He's always teaching chemistry. It's always chemistry") and parents of the school (We're conservative, but this is silly and hurting students). 

So you can file this specific incident in the file right next to the periodic panic over supposed school litter boxes for student furries aka "Things That Upset Certain People But Did Not Actually Happen."

Also, at least some of Abbott's motivation here is pretty clear, as he pivoted directly from "This Terrible Thing Happened" right over to "Parents ought to have school vouchers so that they can get their kids away from this sort of Terrible Thing That Didn't Actually Happen."

But. All that aside, we've still got a governor arguing that behavior that doesn't conform to his particular idea of gendered behavior should be outlawed and stomped on. Kind of takes me back to all those years when women weren't supposed to wear pants, or smoke cigarettes. Author Kate Chopin walking around in pants a century ago scandalizing Louisiana bluebloods. Boys wearing earrings!!Dogs and cats living together! 

There are, in fact, Christian discussion groups out there still debating the lady pants thing, and often coming to the entirely reasonable conclusion that different cultures at different times have different ideas about what male and female clothing should look like. Meanwhile, we've had a whole court case over whether or not a charter school can forbid girls to wear pants (it can't, and the Supremes aren't willing to chime in).

I can't even imagine how Abbott would draw up the Texas Code of Heteronormative Behavior for Teachers. And would the penalties be a kind of sliding scale, or would a shiny earing or bit of rouge receive the same punishment as a flowing sequined ball gown? Are skinny jeans allowed? Would Texas Rangers drag the offending teacher out in cuffs so that any non-conforming students can fully get the message that Their Kind are NOT okay or welcome in Greg Abbott's Texas? Will Texas be outlawing any and all behavior that looks kind of LGBTQ-ish, or will this just be for teachers? Is Abbott's dismay go beyond regular LGBTQ stuff and extend to all non-conforming behavior, like funny hats or ugly sweaters? 

I'm leery of the word "normal," which always has lots of heavy lifting to do. But I do like the word "ordinary," as in, LGBTQ people are an ordinary part of the human experience, as are people who fall outside of whatever standards of behavior are considered Properly Conforming. Should teachers refrain from choices that might cause distraction in the classroom? Sure. But that's a far cry from tagging all non-conforming teachers for harassment and firing and whatever else Abbott meant by saying he wanted to end that type of behavior. 

1 comment:

  1. Greg Abbott is a completely useless piece of shit