Not so small | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Republicans often boast that they are for “small government.” They claim to take a conservative approach, believing the government is too big when it attempts to control the thoughts and speech of its citizens. Hear, hear.

They also often claim that the left wants to control the things you say or the way you think, and are appalled at social consequences that result from one’s speech or actions, accusing the offended of being too sensitive. The argument is that we should be free to express our thoughts and opinions, not holding back just because a statement might hurt someone.

So it is very peculiar to see the laws being proposed and passed by those same people that appear to be using the government to shut down certain thoughts, behaviors, and speech.

A small government would not stop consenting adults from being in a relationship. Yet people who say the government should stay out of their lives and relationships readily use the government to stop same-sex couples from existing in media, after failing to keep them from being married to one another only within the past decade.

Recently, a teacher in Florida was suspended for showing a Disney movie that has a gay character in it. This is not even a plot point; they simply exist in this movie. But the teacher is now under investigation to see if she violated a recent state law, again, for showing a movie in class in which a character happens to be gay.

Even further, there has also been an outcry to limit access to certain books, or even graduate-level theories of learning, that aren’t factually incorrect but do not paint the past in certain favorable ways.

These aren’t the actions of a small government. Only a large, sweeping government could interfere so broadly over such minutiae.

Any government, big or small, could and should step in to stop a practice that is hurting defenseless children. For instance, conversion therapy was a somewhat common practice of sending children to an asylum to (supposedly) re-emerge with a completely different sexual orientation. More recently, many states are enacting bills that prohibit families from being able to use gender-affirming care for their children under the guise of child safety.

In both cases, governments and families alike should yield to medical experts, mental health experts, and counselors with decades of experience. And a small government, keeping its reach limited, would likely yield only to facts.

As such, conversion therapy has been outlawed in numerous states, due to its known traumatic impact in a generation of LGBTQ+ individuals. However, the medical community, while practically unanimous in its support for the value of gender-affirming care, is being stymied by Republican legislators who attack the facts as “woke.”

But let’s be honest: Conservatives have never been about small government if it has gone against their own personal views.

They’d rather attack, ad hominem, the facts as biased or “woke.” This has been particularly true when it comes to people of color, immigrants, women, or the LGBTQ+ community. From Jim Crow laws, the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment camps, or same-sex marriage bans, the government has, in fact, not been big enough for the Republican Party.

They’ve eagerly used the government to restrict access to health care, impose doctrine from one specific religion on all citizens, and ban books or media that cover important, albeit uncomfortable, topics.

These do not seem like the actions of a small government. Because endorsing these pieces of legislation make it apparent they are the very thing they’re speaking out against.

Call me conservative, but if one truly wants a smaller government, it can’t be involved in deciding if children can see characters of different backgrounds. And it shouldn’t prevent families from being able to choose health-care options that best fit their family when those decisions do not personally affect anyone else.

Apologies if anyone’s feelings have been hurt by anything said above.

Jacob Grummer is a social worker in central Arkansas.


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