Harry Potter and the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

Somewhere in Florida, a child is hearing about a bill called “Parental Rights in Education”, called by some the “Don’t Day Gay” bill, and does not begin to realize how their education is going to be ruled by the government, starting with restricting speech on gender and sexuality. This child, from preschool to third grade aged, does not know there is a bill that has been passed which prohibits stating certain genders or races are oppressed. This child does not know in their earliest years that they will have books taken out of their classroom, BANNED, because they talk about race, sexuality, or gender in a way that calls to light oppression.

This is taking books from children, moreover, taking knowledge from children, in effort to have parents have more control over education.

I could try to tell you how insidious this is, even though some say they are just trying to protect the children (Putin is also trying to save Ukraine, but that’s for a different day), but I love a good analogy. Bear with me folx, because we are about to go on a metaphorical journey. Grab a butterbeer and buckle up.

To explain, if you don’t know, the Harry Potter series is a mix of Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations and The Alchemist, set in modern day England. Long story short, little wizard boy doesn’t know he’s a wizard, tragically loses his parents, lives with neglectful Aunt and Uncle. Harry finds out he’s a wizard, his mom and dad were killed by Lord Voldemort, a man on the mission to cleanse the wizard bloodlines to create “pure blood”. Our boy Harry was almost killed on the same night when his parents resisted Voldemort, but weird magic stuff happened and he didn’t. Voldemort hung out in the shadows, doing horrible things like becoming a parasite on another wizard’s body, waiting around until he had the moment to kill Harry and return to power. Today, we are specifically talking about the fifth book, (The Order of the Phoenix) when we meet this witch:

Don’t let her fool you. She looks pink and cute and parades around as though she loves children, but really she was appointed by the government (the Ministry of Magic) to come to Hogwarts (a magic school) as the “High Inquisitor” of the curriculum. She starts to make changes, which are agreed upon by the PTA equivalent of Hogwarts (with a dark side). One of the main men on the PTA is one of Voldy’s supporters, who believes in purifying the blood of all wizards (i.e. eventual enslavement of all non-magic folx). He also has a big history with threatening to kill people on the PTA, if they don’t do what he says. He’s making some big decisions, even though he doesn’t have a degree in education and is definitely in the wizard equivalent of the KKK, wealth ‘n’ all.

Back to the lady in pink, Dolores Umbridge. She starts small at Hogwarts. She observes lessons, critiques instruction, then distributes government-made curriculum in place of history books. She fires people who don’t adhere to the government’s standards, or are speaking out against government interference in education, eventually firing the Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, who is actively working against Voldemort and the idea of a wizarding hierarchy. She even fired teacher because he had “giant” blood, which is something that was said to make his disposition wild and dangerous, although Hagrid was one of the most beloved people at the school. And she does this all on the orders of the government and a select group of folx at the Hogwarts PTA, who are *criminals*.

It’s not long before she is torturing students. She literally tortures students in detention by making them write lines with a quill that takes the blood from their body. As we see this unfold, we see that her influence is not only harming children, but also providing a education which makes them basically defenseless. They never learn anything with the books they receive, they are never taught to practice spells; they are told if they think Voldemort is real and going to hurt them, they are telling lies.

Slippery slope indeed, but does it sound familiar?

Voldemort is a pure blood supremacist, and Dolores and the government think they are doing the children a favor by telling them they don’t have to worry about violence, white wizard supremacy, or oppression, because it doesn’t exist. They change history books, they erase people of color teachers who have non-magical blood by firing them, and they torture students for not maintaining their silence.

When the government and a select group of parents start controlling the curriculum for all children, ignoring blatant truths in the world such as oppression, injustice, racism, sexism, and homophobia, we start this scary cycle. Understand: identity is intertwined with perception, which starts before school even begins. Perception of inequality begins as soon as a child is treated different then his or her peer because of race, gender, or sexuality. Now, that child doesn’t have the crux to understand that their government-appointed textbooks and teacher (not there yet, but slippery slope) is treating them differently because of their gender identity, their race, or their culture. No. Instead, they think they are bad children who deserved to be punished (that’s almost a direct quote from our dear friend, Dolores). But they never even know why. And I haven’t even got into those who it doesn’t directly affect (outside of the state of Florida); the eyes of the LGBTQ and BIPOC world are on Florida. Once they begin to erase gender, identity, and sexuality, what validation will those people feel for their journey?

Thank you for taking that magical metaphorical journey with me. Horrified? Terrified? Scared? Me too. Here’s what you can do:

Look at the facts. I didn’t say much about how empirically harmful this is — but here’s some cold, hard data.

Tell lawmakers to oppose this bill.

Teach the people around you, your children, your friends and family, that erasure is harmful.

As an LGBTQ+ kid, I was bullied. I was told I should be essentially lynched so I can spend an eternity burning in hell for my homosexual sins. I was reported to the principal for holding hands with my girlfriend as inappropriate, when straight couples would share buckets of saliva by their lockers. The whole softball team refused to change with me in the locker room. It’s okay to be gay, to say gay, and to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity.

I AM VALID. I AM HISTORY. I WILL NOT BE ERASED.

It should be noted, Harry Potter actually a challenged book. Many schools have challenged the idea of the witchcraft in the novel. It’s also contested due to transphobic comments made by the author, J.K. Rowling. Many of the community members who do enjoy Harry Potter condemn the acts of the author, but state that the book does not portray any overt transphobia, and in fact, is a book about love, peace, and goes against racism, sexism, bullying, and xenophobia. I do not condone any comments made by the author of Harry Potter that have negatively impacted the LGBTQ+ community.

1 thought on “Harry Potter and the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill

  1. WOW – what an Amazing job! I loved how you used a well-known story that started out with a boy not knowing his true identity, and a teacher and government trying to pretend certain things, like his identity, do not exist, and intertwined it with the “Parental Rights in Education” bill that prohibits stating certain genders or races are oppressed in education and trying to remove education about “oppression, injustice, racism, sexism, and homophobia”.

    It is has taken the U.S. citizens over 200 years to get to where we are in regards to admitting these wrongs and slowly working to rectify them. A fall on a slippery slope can be fast and dangerous and climbing back up as we’ve seen takes years. It is deplorable to think that people want to ignore these terrible and true facts, because when we ignore injustices, they will continue. The only way that we as a country can move forward is to acknowledge what has happened in the past and learn from our mistakes.

    I’m so sorry that you had to endure bullying and the feeling that people wanted to lynch you for who you are as a person. I hope that you have found acceptance and love by the people in your life that matter.

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