Feb 12, 2022
In the state of Florida, there are two education related bills (Senate Bill 1834 and House Bill 1557) being considered that would be seriously detrimental to LGBTQ youth to the point that if passed into law, their suicide rate would almost certainly increase. You may be wondering how I can make such a bold statement. Well, I can because it’s based on facts that I will explain.
The Trevor Project is a national organization which provides support for LGBTQ young people in crisis who may be considering suicide. In 2021, they conducted a nationwide survey of close to 35,000 LGBTQ young people (aged 13 to 24), and here are some key numbers that they found. 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and for transgender/nonbinary youth, that number was 52%. 72% of LGBTQ young people reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the previous two weeks, and only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. In the past year, 48% said that they wanted professional counseling but had not received it, and LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide when compared to those who had not been subjected to the barbaric practice.
Think about those numbers. I mean really think about them. And here’s another one to consider: of minors who have experienced homelessness, around 40% identify as LGBTQ. These statistics are scary and prove how far society still needs to go in terms of LGBTQ acceptance, understanding, and rights.
Now, let’s go back to the two bills I mentioned that critics are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bills. They are dangerous because they place serious limitations on schools’ abilities to discuss and deal with LGBTQ issues. In their current form, they say, “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The latter part of this in particular is quite vague and could easily be abused so that older students would likely be affected as well. The result would be teachers being afraid to discuss LGBTQ history and issues which in turn would make LGBTQ students feel even more isolated, marginalized, and confused.
Another extremely disturbing part of the bills say, “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being” must be told to the parents. What this essentially means is that unless they can prove doing so would lead to harm (something that would be extremely difficult to do), school faculty would be required to out LGBTQ students to their parents whether the students were ready for this or not. Why is this important you may wonder? Well, go back to the numbers above, in particular the part where only one in three youth say they live in an LGBTQ affirming home. The fact is: many minors have parents who are very prejudiced against the LGBTQ Community, and because of this, many students are more likely to come out to a school counselor or teacher before they are ready to tell their prejudiced parents. If these bills become law, this important outlet for these students will be taken away.
The cold hard reality is that these bills, if passed into law, would certainly worsen situations for many LGBTQ youth (especially their mental health) as they became more isolated, marginalized, closeted, confused, and frightened. Instead of being able to seek out and receive support when they need it, too many would end up suffering in silence, afraid of anyone discovering their secret. This in turn would worsen quality of life and undoubtedly lead to increased suicide rates.
So I hope you will join me in spreading the word in opposing these bills as well as other anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in states around the country because lives are literally at stake
What is wrong with people?
We are still in the COVID Pandemic and are experiencing a serious surge as the Omicron variant spreads like wildfire around the world. Some medical experts are thinking Omicron may be as contagious as Measles. Here’s an example of how contagious Omicron is. In late November of 2021, 110 people attended a Holiday party in Oslo, Norway. Most of the attendees were fully vaccinated (from the initial 2 dose series). One individual who had recently arrived from South Africa was infected with the Omicron variant of COVID, and when all was said and done, 70% of those in attendance ended up catching the virus. 70%. Think about that. And remember many more people who had not been to the party undoubtedly caught Omicron from individuals who had been present. That is how contagious the Omicron variant is.
Another problem we’re seeing with Omicron is that while immune resistance from the initial vaccine series is still helping protect against severe disease, it appears to be weakened in preventing people from getting infected in the first place. Immune resistance from previous infection of earlier COVID variants is also not working as well against Omicron so that the risk of reinfection (especially in those who are unvaccinated) is significantly increased. This is why getting boostered is so important. Boosters are improving the immune system’s ability to fight the virus.
We know that mask wearing and social distancing help significantly decrease spread of the virus. It’s also clear that to gain the maximum effect, everyone inside a public space should be wearing a mask. This is because masks decrease the amount of virus that is exhaled into the air by someone (who may have COVID and not realize it) while also increasing protection for other people in the room who would be exposed to what virus is able to escape into the room’s atmosphere. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
Now consider how schools are getting ready to restart after the Holiday break. It should be abundantly obvious that everyone inside a school should be wearing a mask right now. Everyone. Kids and staff are going to be inside rooms in close proximity to each other for hours. We’re also seeing how in this current surge, a growing number of young people are getting infected since so many kids are not vaccinated (whether because they are too young or because the parents being too hesitant). And yes, some of these kids end up in the hospital. This is why everyone should be wearing a mask inside schools.
It’s not rocket science folks.
Yet many people are fighting against mask wearing mandates in schools claiming that not wearing a mask should be their individual right. The problem with their argument is that we are in the midst of a pandemic with case numbers rapidly rising. This means that wearing a mask inside a school is not just about protecting the well-being of the wearer. It’s also about protecting everyone else in that school as well as people students and staff will be in contact with elsewhere in their lives. It’s about doing what is responsible and right for the greater good.
This is why when people are vehemently opposing mask wearing mandates in schools, they are being seriously irresponsible and are endangering the lives of not just their own children, family, and friends, but those of other people as well. And worse still is how Republican Governors DeSantis of Florida and Abbott of Texas have prohibited mask mandates in their states’ public schools. That means local public school officials are not allowed to institute mask mandates, even during times of high transmission rates in their districts. This goes against science and will definitely cost lives to be lost needlessly and unnecessarily. Frankly, people like Governors DeSantis and Abbott have (or will have) blood on their hands.
In times of crisis, everyone needs to pull together and do their part for the greater good and let go of some of their own personal desires and demands. This is what happened during World War II when everyone did their part to defeat Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The problem is that right now millions of Americans are refusing to do their part in that they’re not wearing masks and social distancing when they should, and many are refusing to get vaccinated and/or boostered despite the fact they have no legitimate medical reason not to.
So I ask again: what’s wrong with people? Why are so many being selfish to the point of endangering the lives of not just themselves and their own children, but those of other innocent people as well?
During this time of crisis, mask wearing and social distancing in public places, especially schools, is critical in managing the pandemic because otherwise, the health care system will become even more overwhelmed than it already is. Another vital tool in battling COVID is for people to get vaccinated and boostered when eligible.
If more people would think about the greater good and do the right thing, we would get better control over the pandemic faster, which in turn would save lives.
We are still in the COVID Pandemic folks. This is a fact. The Delta Variant is much more contagious than earlier variants and is spreading very quickly. This is also a fact. Many hospitals around the country are filling up again with COVID patients. We are at the point now where people who need ICU beds aren’t always able to get them, and as a result, some of these individuals have died when they likely could have been saved if they had gotten into ICU. Now consider that of the COVID patients who are in ICUs, the significant majority are unvaccinated individuals.
Think about that. We have safe vaccines available that we know are very effective in decreasing the chances of getting severe disease from COVID, yet millions of Americans are still refusing to get vaccinated even when they could. Hospitals are getting overwhelmed and people are dying who could have been saved otherwise because so many people are refusing to get vaccinated. This is a cold, hard fact.
On top of this is how so many people in the United States refuse to wear masks when they should. Masks work. They decrease the chances of people spreading and catching the virus.
Masks are most effective when everyone is wearing them, particularly inside spaces with less ventilation. Consider this: you have a room full of people. If one of those individuals has COVID, that person is shedding the virus as they breathe and talk. The virus then spreads on small water droplets (>5 microns) and probably also in the form of much smaller aerosolized particles. The droplets fall into the ground quicker, whereas aerosols can linger in the air for hours. There is evidence that COVID can be spread via both methods. If someone with COVID is in such an environment without a mask on, then everyone right around that individual will be at risk of breathing in virus laden droplets that the person is breathing out. The longer these people are in close quarters to the COVID individual, the greater the chance they will become infected, especially if they’re not wearing masks. Individuals who are inside the room but a little farther away may also be at risk via breathing in virus containing aerosols. This risk obviously goes up if they are in the room for extended periods of time and aren’t wearing masks. But if everyone, including the individual with COVID, is wearing a mask, then the risk of other people getting infected significantly goes down. This is because masks help decrease the amount of virus that is breathed out into the atmosphere of the room by the COVID individual while also decreasing the amount of virus the uninfected people might breathe in.
Now imagine this room is full of your kids and their teacher at school.
This is why mandatory mask wearing in schools is so vitally important right now. We are seeing a significant rise in the number of minors catching COVID (and going to the hospital) right now. These kids who are getting infected can then in turn spread the virus to others in their household, some of whom might be at greater risk of getting severe disease.
In order to get a better handle on this pandemic and defeat it, everyone needs to work together like happened during World War II. During that conflict, people worked together to achieve victory. Everyone from civilians to soldiers. But this is not happening during the current COVID Pandemic, even though we are at war with a virus. According to Johns Hopkins University, as of September 25, 2021, 687,572 human beings have died in the United States alone from this virus (418,500 Americans died in WW2). Too many people are not wearing masks / social distancing when they should and too many are still refusing to get vaccinated even though they could. These individuals are being extremely irresponsible and frankly selfish. They are the major reason why hospitals are getting overwhelmed with COVID patients.
It’s time for everyone to do their part for the greater good, like occurred during WW2. People who are able, need to get vaccinated immediately, and everyone should wear masks (and social distance as much as possible) when inside public places or in concentrated outdoor crowds. If enough people would do this, we would get a much better handle on the COVID Pandemic, which in turn would save lives.
What has this country come to? Hmm? So many people are refusing to get vaccinated or wear masks even though it’s been proven that both are extremely important in fighting the COVID Pandemic. And it sure seems like a significant chunk of the Republican Party keeps sinking to greater and greater depths of irresponsibility which is endangering people’s lives as well as our democratic values.
It’s bad enough how so many Republicans are trying to change the narrative of what really happened on January 6th and who was responsible. Too many continue to spread Trump’s lies about the election, and Republicans around the country are even trying to pass voting laws that a lot of experts feel would make it more difficult for many Americans to practice their constitutional right to vote. These actions are clearly undermining and threatening our democracy.
But what is also sickening is how such a great number of people, many of whom are Republicans, are so willfully ignoring and mishandling the COVID Pandemic. They seem to be denying or avoiding scientific evidence and advice about how to fight COVID-19. A great number of individuals are not wearing masks when they clearly should and far too many are still refusing to get vaccinated despite the fact that vaccinations are vitally important in battling this deadly virus. Even before the current surge which is enveloping this country exploded, the CDC was recommending unvaccinated people wear masks when inside public places or in big crowds, yet many were totally disregarding this advice. A variety of people from different walks of life have been doing this sort of thing unfortunately, and it’s been a significant problem among Republicans. Polls and studies have shown that as a whole, Democrats and Independents have been more likely to take this Pandemic seriously when compared to Republicans. A higher percentage of Republicans say they will not get vaccinated as compared to Democrats. It’s been Republican states which have been having much lower vaccination rates and thus faster spread of the Delta Variant. Now we are in another surge as the Delta Variant, which is much more contagious than earlier forms of COVID, spreads rapidly around the country and the world. The CDC is recommending that in areas with substantial or high rates of transmission (which is most of the United States), everyone should wear a mask when inside public spaces. This includes those who have been vaccinated. Yet many people are ignoring this. And what makes matters even worse is the fact that there are Republican leaders such as the governors of Texas and Florida who are refusing to institute mandatory mask wearing for schools. Governor DeSantis of Florida is even going to the extreme of threatening the salaries of education officials who enforce mandatory mask wearing in their local school districts. This is beyond sickening!
Mask wearing absolutely saves lives in that it decreases the chances of the virus spreading from person to person. The scientific evidence for this is beyond overwhelming. A significant majority of kids are not vaccinated, especially those under 12 because they’re not allowed to get one of the vaccines at this point. And we know kids can catch and transmit COVID. We’re also seeing in the current surge a greater percentage of young people ending up in the hospital because of COVID infections. So it’s blatantly obvious that everyone in schools should be wearing masks and that doing so would help limit the amount of spread that occurs. Yet Republican Governors DeSantis and Abbott are completely ignoring the scientific evidence and are opposing mandatory mask wearing in schools. This will absolutely cause lives to be lost needlessly and unnecessarily.
What is wrong with such members of the Republican Party? How low are they going to sink, and how many innocent people have to die because of the irresponsible behavior of leaders such as DeSantis and Abbott (as well as that of everyday individuals who refuse to wear masks or get vaccinated)?
When history looks back on this time, it’s going to treat a great many people, especially a significant number of Republicans, very harshly, and they’re absolutely going to deserve it!