Is your city being pushed to pass a Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) protections law? Read this.

The problem here is blurring of important issues and treating them the same when they are incompatibly different. It is important to take stock of the tricks that are often used to combine sympathetic scenarios with ill-conceived scenarios. 

First, just about everyone understands why our nation’s history demands we go carefully in issues of racial discrimination. But sexual orientation is based on a behavior and its very foundational assumptions — that people are born gay, that they cannot change, and that behavior is intrinsic to their identity–are thoroughly debunked by biology, genetics studies, cultural history, and the many testimonies of people who changed their sexual habits through deliberate effort. So the first clouding of the issue comes when people blur the obvious distinctions between a sympathetic issue (racial discrimination) and an issue beset by logical flaws and harmful effects (beliefs about sexual orientation).

Second, there are important differences between opposing bullying and prescribing high-risk behaviors to people. This is another area where anti-discrimination ordinances package together sympathetic scenarios (a person who doesn’t fit in, who’s being picked on) and ill-conceived scenarios (telling people that their life history means that they are gay or transgender and they must live out the behaviors associated with these identities, or else they will commit suicide). SOGI laws get people’s sympathy because we all don’t like the idea of someone beating up someone else just because a person’s perceived as gay or trans. But the reality is that male-male sexual practices are significantly more harmful, and in general both gay and trans adults have high rates of depression, anxiety, addictions, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and low self-esteem. There are many situations where people can choose not to pursue a gay or trans behavioral pattern and would be better off avoiding it. One size does not fit all. Anti-discrimination laws often do not protect people from bullying because LGBT people can target an individual for peer pressure and grooming, in some cases even sexual assault, and defend themselves by saying that their accusers are being homophobic or transphobic to them. They LGBT community has a lot of abuse problems similar to the problems that plagued the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church, and they have not yet dealt with them. The legal definitions of harassment, retaliation, discrimination, and “hostile environment” have become so confused that these laws often end up becoming tools to silence victims of bullying or mistreatment rather than ways of protecting people. 

Third, these laws often gain support by focusing on heartbreaking stories of people losing their jobs or being kicked out of their homes. Certainly nobody would want to endorse putting LGBT people’s livelihoods at risk over people’s disagreements with their gender politics. But these laws tend to go far beyond protecting people from outright persecution. The laws lean heavily toward penalizing people accused of harassment or not being inclusive enough. Usually once inclusive policies are put in place, the first thing we see happening is people who do not agree with the LGBT community’s claims being forced out of their jobs or community organizations regardless of whether they ever did anything to harm another LGBT person.

Fourth, the arguments for these laws usually cloud the issue by bringing up businesses that want to attract talented LGBT people, who would ostensibly be more eager to work in a community that didn’t discriminate against them. But this hides the flip side: many talented people are driven out of their jobs because anti-discrimination laws allow pro-LGBT people to target them for complaints, often over things they’ve said or even things they posted on social media outside of work. Many intelligent and capable workers have skills in professions but don’t agree with LGBT claims like “born this way” or supporting drag queen story hour or placing orphans in LGBT homes when heterosexual homes are available. Business communities have a lot more to risk from the costly and disruptive HR processes that come with enforcing vague SOGI provisions (and often losing talented workers branded as homophobic or transphobic). The kind of people who would only work in companies that locate in super LGBT-friendly locales are usually the kind of people who are likely to start boycotts, Yelp campaigns, or file lots of complaints within an organization. 

Fifth, these laws almost always trick communities by downplaying their interference with children’s lives until after the laws have passed. When people try to sell SOGI laws to a community they talk about gay adult couples who need to be protected from things like eviction or being blocked from seeing each other in the hospital. In reality the LGBT organizations are universally obsessed with pushing “inclusive” policies on institutions that deal with underage people: schools, libraries, church ministries, YMCAs, and other clubs. For whatever reason, the leadership of LGBT organizations tends to neglect the life challenges of adults who are living lives as out LGBT people, and they channel a lot of their energy into forcing child-centered institutions to introduce programming or content about gay and trans behavior. This sets off a spiraling situation: discussions with children are often conducted by teachers, daycare workers, librarians, or others who do not have training in child psychology or who have been given politically skewed curriculum. Discussions tend to alarm parents in the community, who are then targeted for charges of intolerance and potentially harming their children.

Finally, the reality is that anal sex is a harmful sexual practice and male-male sex inevitably becomes involved with anal sex (this is why HIV spread in the way that it did). Transitioning from one gender to the other has still proven to be very difficult and fraught with psychological struggles; it is far from clear that people are happier after transitioning than they are when they are merely sissies or tombies or some other familiar profile of a young person going against the grain. The behaviors are controversial because the behaviors are potentially harmful, and when laws try to force communities not to acknowledge or discuss the real risks with these behaviors, this harms everyone in the community, not just LGBT people. It is also wrong to force people to remain silent about well documented behavioral risks when young people can make better decisions if they are well informed.