Michael Matteo: Crossing the ‘live and let live’ line

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

Throughout my life, I’ve been a supporter of the idea of live and let live.  What people do in consensual relationships in their own bedrooms or anywhere else that is private is their business and none of my business.  I believe a large majority of Americans feel this way.  However, today it’s not good enough for someone to adopt the philosophy that “minding one’s own business is a full time job” because people are being forced or guilted into adopting intrusive ideologies which demand that they give up their own belief systems by intolerant individuals whose own level of tolerance has a very small window.  

There was a time when a conservative could be in favor of the end of discriminatory practices against gay people because discrimination (regardless of the group being discriminated) is wrong.  Decades of forcing someone to hide their feelings or to outwardly be something that they were not was unfair and un-American.  As a variety of sexual preferences became more accepted and the pendulum began to swing in favor of traditionally marginalized groups, extremists from those groups were not satisfied with equality and what was being asked went far beyond the quest for equality.  These demands became aggressive campaigns that insisted that mainstream Americans readjust their thinking to conform to what others wanted them to believe even if it was against a person’s core values.  You are now labeled as X-phobic if you refuse to adopt the pronouns that someone claims ownership of, despite what your physical senses tell you about that person.  You are now labeled as intolerant and offensive if you challenge proponents of gender politics by asking them to define the most basic of words “man” or “woman.”  You are now talked down to by those who embrace unproven theories about transgenderism and the questionable aspects of gender studies, which seem to collapse when scrutinized. You are considered to be intolerant when you make the claim that a biological male shouldn’t compete against biological females in sporting events.  Your desire to protect small children from indoctrination is attacked by those who believe that parental rights end when the classroom door closes and your child is at the mercy of a teacher who is more of an activist than an educator.  

For years, those on the left have used the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  As this “village” mentality, like a pandemic, festered in universities and flowed down into high schools and primary schools over time new lines were drawn.  It wasn’t good enough to be accepting of someone’s lifestyle; now you had to embrace it and conform to it.  This exists not only for gender areas, but for racial issues too.  It’s no longer acceptable to believe in equality for all or to live in a colorblind society because, today, you must be an “anti-racist,” and this means apologizing for one’s skin color, accepting race-based generalizations and phantom privileges associated with whiteness and claiming guilt for atrocities that you didn’t commit. 

The battle lines have been drawn and reasonable people are realizing that acquiescing to the demands of those who will not be happy until they get their way is damaging to America.  It’s revisiting the old adage, “Give a finger and they will take the hand.” The front-line troops in these battles are parents, who don’t need the village to raise their kids who will be casualties if parents lose this fight.  Those who advocate teaching sexual topics and asking small children to make a gender selection and keeping this a secret from parents want 100% compliance.  They distort words, as in the case of the Florida law being labeled “Don’t Say Gay,” which doesn’t use these words at all.  The law simply prohibits teachers from teaching sexual topics to children in grades K-3.  Is this unreasonable?  Many so-called educators believe it is and have threatened to quit.  My response to them is good riddance.  As a teacher for over 3 decades, I have never felt the need to reference my sexuality or inquired about my students’ sexual preferences when teaching history, literature or any other subject that I have taught.  

When it comes to small children, some who support gender education will say that it’s necessary and threaten that children who are not educated are potential suicide risks among transgendered children.  If this was the case, then there would be decades of kids who committed suicide in the past, but it never happened.   Those who support gender education completely ignore the developmental process as children move into adolescence and adulthood.  How many six-year-olds understand anything sexual, let alone have any understanding of the ramifications of choosing their gender at that age?  Most children don’t get to determine their bedtime or make basic decisions about their lives, which are left to parents.  Teenagers can’t buy alcohol or cigarettes or vote, yet, proponents of gender education believe that they should be able to cover topics that could end in that young person making the choice of hormone therapy or surgery, which will alter that person’s life forever.  

So what is the issue that is really going on here?  Do gender activists sincerely believe that their quest to educate the most mentally and emotionally vulnerable will make the lives of these children better, or is there some other agenda here?  As the number of trans-confused children increases exponentially as compared to previous decades and teens struggle with normal issues of adolescence, it’s too easy for someone to come along and say, “Hey, you have a lot of inner confusion, maybe that’s because you are an X trapped in a Y body.”  This appeals to impressionable minds in a similar manner to the way drug dealers get people with issues to start using drugs by making it appear the drugs will ease the person’s pain.  In the end, it’s a false cure, and those who adopt it still have the problems that existed before life-altering changes were made, but now must contend with a new problem that they created.  

Live and let live is a great thing.  It requires respect, tolerance and the ability to realize that no one’s rights are any better or greater than someone else’s rights.  When anyone attempts to usurp another’s rights, it is fascism and must be met in a swift and decisive way.  Children are the most vulnerable members of any society, and it’s up to the adults, most notably parents, to do everything in their power to protect children from those who are free to act as they like, but attempt to gain allies through the manipulation of young minds.

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