Accusing Teachers of Sexual Abuse Will Harm Students

Teachers are often the best support system kids have. Attacking them puts that at risk

Tim Wise

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Image: StunningArt, Shutterstock, standard license, purchased by author

You don’t have to be a QAnon cultist to agree that child sexual abuse is a serious problem worthy of attention.

But you do have to be one — or at least a Q-adjacent conspiracist of staggeringly stupid proportions — to believe American schools are teeming with pedophiles who use library books to lure kids into their sexual lair.

And yet, it’s 2022, so here we are.

Because America is a shit show.

With legislation banning or severely restricting discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, Florida lawmakers and their defenders have gone on the offensive, accusing all who object to such a law as “groomers” of young children.

Why, they ask, would anyone want teachers to discuss sex and sexuality with elementary school students?

Of course, it’s a trick question.

There were no classes or lessons on such subjects in those grades.

But schools might have had books featuring same-sex parents, or teachers might have had pictures of their same-sex spouses on their desks. Presumably, these would now be viewed as injecting matters of sexuality into the classroom and, as such, be prohibited.

Of course, books with heterosexual families would undoubtedly continue to be used, and straight teachers could still invite their spouses to school events.

Because to the right, sexual orientation and gender identity are codes for LGBTQ folks.

The rest of us don’t have those things.

We’re just “normal.”

But putting aside the homophobia, transphobia, and straight supremacy at work here — and how it will harm LGBTQ students and educators, forced back into the closet by small-minded bigots — there are two other issues that most have overlooked.

Teachers can be a source of support for kids experiencing trauma at home

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Tim Wise

Anti-racism educator and author of 9 books, including White Like Me and, most recently, Dispatches from the Race War (City Lights, December 2020)