Stop grooming our kids, you godbothering weirdos

In a decision remarkable mainly for how little effort the majority put in to convince us it even cared about the facts of the case, the conservative Supreme Court gave the go-ahead last week for schools to elevate religious zealotry alongside children's sports programs. The basic reasoning is conservative from top to bottom; the worst Christian person you know must have the right to make themselves a destructive public nuisance everywhere they happen to go, whereas The Children have no rights at all, not one, and must abide whatever the adults have in store for them.

The party of Jim Jordan and, well, Florida, is very clear on that last point and gets very prickly if you suggest otherwise. The Children must learn about conservative ideologies in schools, and must absolutely not learn anything their parents might object to. No learning about America's systemic racism; no learning what a uterus is; no learning about the existence of Jews, Muslims, Black authors, families with two moms, spouses in general, or rainbows.

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School football coaches, however, have generally been immune to such pressures. This is mostly because nobody thinks high school football coaches are in danger of teaching their kids a single damn thing, but it's also because there's no small town in America where parents' sole evening entertainment plans revolve around smuggling six packs into school stadiums to yell slurs at, for example, spelling bee contestants.

If the AP Biology teacher gets caught teaching children about the Forbidden Organs, there's no parent group that will launch itself into action to save them. If the school's athletic director gets caught raffling off tickets that allow the winner to hit the shower with his team of underage boys, then calls for justice will be responded to during school board meetings with feverish parent concerns about how the punishment might affect the team's winning season.

We're this close to the championships, after all. Is now really the time to rock the boat?

Well, I too am a parent, and I too have something to object to. I object to your religious practices, sports coaches that make a show of public prayer during school sports events. Your religion is wrong. Your religious beliefs are garbage, and you're a garbage person for having them. And, most importantly, I don't want my child or any of America's children to be anywhere near you.

Stop grooming our children, you freaks. Stop indoctrinating them to believe that the God they should believe in is a vapid entity that throws high school sports games based on the whims of abusive authority figures. Stop teaching them that God is a slot machine for them to put quarters in.

I don't care what religious sect you belong to: If you're leading children in prayer on the 50-yard line, your religion sucks. I don't care what you call God or how many gods you believe in; if you're leading a prayer on the field that ties the outcomes of sporting events to how the deities feel that evening, what is wrong with you.

Teaching kids about the history of lynching in America is not "grooming" them. Teaching our kids the formalities of praying in your religion is absolutely "grooming" them, and is in fact grooming them to be the worst kind of religious charlatans. Performative. Public. Hollow-headed. Insincere. Trivial.

Whatever your religion might be, you have no right to suggest to everyone else's children that if the sportball of the day did not go into the right net or hoop or zone it is because God did that. If you are teaching children how to hit other children as hard as possible while wearing worn-out protective gear that may or may not even fit them, you do not get to claim that an injured child is the result of God intervening to hurt them. Seriously: What the hell is wrong with you?

The role of Our Lord Almighty in American sports is a long and shady one, probably because many devoted sports fans are uninterested in any injustices around them that do not involve the team they are rooting for. But it always goes in one direction: God is always praised for making the Good team win, but is never grumbled about when the Good team loses.

You never hear a post-game interview in which a kicker says "yeah, I would have totally nailed that field goal but God screwed me. He totally moved my foot wrong at the last moment." You never hear a high school coach telling his team "Well, that was a great game but it turns out God doesn't love you. You should probably go home and reflect on that a bit."

The moment you are invoking an almighty deity as the guiding force behind how the evening's sports match turned out, you're grooming all the children forced to listen to you to believe that God is a vapid and bored entity that may not care about genocide or natural disaster, but absolutely has a stake in local team sports.

The children who belong to every religion that is better than yours, and that includes all of the atheist children, have every right to have you not insult their own religious beliefs by interjecting vapid, empty-brained thoughts like that.

If your school has just been the scene of a mass shooting and you, as an authority figure, announce to the children in your care that it is because God wanted their friends dead, I am going to personally book an airplane ticket, fly to your house, and punch you in the face. If your school is down three points in the fourth quarter and you call a risky play that results in an interception, then there are a hundred factors that have led to that outcome that are all more consequential than God deciding which children he loves best. I don't want my child or anybody else's child to hear your impotent, self-promoting bleating about how God shares the blame.

It is offensive! Genuinely offensive! How dare you groom my child to believe that the Creator of All Things is a pachinko machine that you toss prayers into and test your luck!

Football coach religion is the worst religion on the planet, and it doesn't matter which religion they belong to or how often they attend. Football coach religion is always, each and every time, terrible. It is inherently cultish.

It is also inherently coercive. This is such an obvious fact that it by itself proves the Supreme Court majority to be dishonest and hackish; a Supreme Court that claims it cannot possibly deduce how the school's most visible authority figure (especially in all the towns that have so few authority figures that "high school football coach" automatically gets bumped to near the top of their list) might be pressuring students to pray in the manner of his own religion rather than their own—that shows such clownish contempt for fact-finding that it should justify impeachment all on its own.

Did you know that different Christian denominations say the most famous Christian prayer differently, with different words? Many children find this out when they are obliged to offer a prayer in a public or semi-public setting and oops, find out that the words everyone else are tediously chanting aren't the same ones coming out of their own mouths. It's a bit of an awkward moment, to be sure, and one that is not likely to become less awkward when you are surrounded by peers whose main defining characteristic is that they are meatier and more aggressive than the rest of the class.

What will you do then? Will you bend the knee as the coach does, rather than as you were taught? Will you say his words, and not your own? Will you break your own religious belief that prayers should not be done for public show or for vapid, self-serving reasons in order to fit in with the compulsive grown man who makes every decision on who gets to play, and in what positions, and for how long?

That is what every child must decide, as they are groomed by a religious zealot who believes their own religious practices naturally supersede that of every other person on the field and in the stands. And if the coach is zealot enough to believe that, and to impose public pressure on children he holds power over so that they'll comply, that dude is not a football coach. He's just an aspiring cult leader who's lucked into his own captive audience.

American parents have every right to expect that their children, attending public school, will not face public pressure to adhere to a particular old coot's personal religious beliefs. We have every right to expect that public school officials will not teach our children to pray to an audience rather in private, and will not suggest to them that a deity each child may or may not believe in is Actually the force that controls each child's successes in at least equal proportion to their own hard work and choices. Get bent. Get out of here with that garbage.

I'm not worried about my child stumbling onto a book about Ruby Bridges and turning to a life of crime. But there's no way in hell I'd willingly leave my child alone for 10 minutes with a coach like that.

I don't care what religion my child chooses to be, just as long as they don't grow up praying to the God of Endzones and Conveniently Timed Knee Injuries. Three-quarters of American religious faith can be boiled down to that, and it doesn't need any help.

So there you go, Supreme Court conservatives who believe authority figures ought to be able to preach to children in a manner that displays those children's reactions for public view and possible community retaliation. I, an Actual Parent, am lodging an objection. You have violated my religion by exposing my child to a different religion which is in every way inferior, primitive, and stupid.

Since the decision was reached by lying about what was going on, however, we can assume that whatever religious beliefs Supreme Court conservatives might hold are demonstrably worse than even that of abusive football coaches, which takes some doing. Perhaps we could get some better Americans to take those reins. Perhaps even a few Americans whose religious beliefs do not specifically hinge on being able to pressure public school students into going along with their petty public stunts.

Community Spotlight: How are you helping to build back better?

We Rescue Rangers know the Community has broad interests, but you surprised me this week by going big for two rescued stories covering subjects not remotely associated with current news and politics. Previously, I’d exclaimed that Community stories can offer “refuge from politics,” but that referenced nature, more commonly considered a haven away from troubling news. This week, however, the Community found an atypical refuge in … classical literature!

With another impeachment behind us, leaving a residue of widespread dissatisfaction, governance still holds our attention, as do climate change and COVID-19. In addition to this week’s focus on Beowulf and Shakespeare, the Daily Kos Community has turned back to more enduring concerns, including the need to hold legislators accountable and to empower voters. One of my volunteer projects does both and takes an hour of my online work per week.

I’ll tell you more about this project next Saturday, because this week, I’d like to hear about your volunteer involvement. Has the pandemic changed how your project operates? Did you work on candidate campaigns in the last election and, once those wrapped up, shift to new ventures? Are you still writing postcards to voters? I’m interested in hearing about all kinds of volunteer efforts, not just the political ones. The pandemic has expanded the need for ongoing efforts, like food banks and created new needs, such as testing and vaccine clinics. The Daily Kos Community comprises varied talents and expertise, so I’m sure some members are involved in projects new to many of us. Expand our world by sharing your enthusiasm in the comments, and, if your project needs more helpers, add a volunteer sign up link.

Half of the 16 stories we featured this week are first time rescues, including two writers who joined and wrote their first stories the same day. One such story, about Shakespeare, had 22 Recs Wed. at 8 p.m. and, 24 hours later, had 188 recs and 439 comments. As an illustration of our Community’s diversity of knowledge, another new member joined the next day and wrote their first story describing the municipal water delivery infrastructure, and how system flaws result in devastating problems, such as the debacle in Texas. The week’s most recommended rescued story, with over 200 recs, is a deeply personal essay describing the author’s realization that their husband is a narcissist. 

16 Rescued Stories from 4 p.m. EST Friday Feb. 12 to 4 p.m. EST Friday Feb. 19, 2021

Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years. You also can find a link in Meteor Blades’ “Night Owls” series, which publishes daily between 10-11PM EST.

In Myth of the middle—Jeep Super Bowl, Grey Panther explores the high-profile Bruce Springsteen Super Bowl ad for Jeep that, the author claims, perpetrates a false stereotype of the average American as a “wandering soul searching for a middle ground, a geographic middle.” Grey Panther demolishes this myth using their personal experiences of “middle America,” then promotes their view of what constitutes the average American. “I have found a little bit to worship in every place and person I’ve encountered. I have loved the preserved sites of the First Peoples, the Civil War, and natural habitats. There are too few of them. I slide through America on my solo journeys, becoming more in touch with my humanity.” Grey Panther joined in 2008 and has written 89 stories, with 12 rescued.

The circus comes to town by ViewFromSpace re-examines the first two weeks after Trump’s 2017 inauguration to evaluate if his actions were as awful as we anticipated. Not a spoiler—they were worse. “The term ‘outrage fatigue’ predated the Trump administration, but seemed custom designed to describe it. Trump packed more scandal into his first two weeks than most presidents achieve in eight years. Nothing about the Trump presidency was normal and it’s important that we reflect on just how abnormal it really was.” ViewFromSpace joined in 2020 and has written three stories. This is their first rescue.

DrMarmot traces the processes climate change kicked into action and the traits of bat biology that, together, could result in the emergence of a novel pathogen such as COVID-19 in Bats, bushmeat and viruses: How climate disruption helped create COVID-19. Ecosystem disruptions reverberate through nature, affecting species distributions and migration, until infected animals connect with humans in wildlife markets. “The study found that this climate-induced chain reaction of floral change driving faunal change driving viral biodiversity ‘may have played a key role in the evolution or transmission of the two SARS CoVs’...Though bats are the source for many coronaviruses, they are not responsible for the pandemic. People are.” DrMarmot joined in 2017 and has written 10 stories, with four rescued—two of them this week.

The search for truth part 2 by Casual Observer 2 asks “(H)ow does a normal human being separate wheat from chaff, sheep from goats? This question gets at the heart of what I think is the key crisis in our country (if not the world) right now: ’What information do I believe is reliable and why do I believe that it is reliable?’” They compare a few approaches to finding the truth, one over 2,500 years old, noting differences and similarities. Casual Observer 2 joined in 2016 and has written two stories. This is their first rescue.

Winifred3 started quilting six years ago, after many years of embroidery, and she has learned that embroidery is an "integral aspect" of quilting. She now adds blocks of embroidery to her quilts, as shown in her beautiful illustrations in DK Quilt Guild: quilt blocks with embroidery. Winifred3 joined in 2010 and has written 124 stories. We also rescued her photo story showing Christmas quilts last month.

Bet you’ve never heard of the 1954 film Salt of the Earth.  Random82 tells us about this hidden, entertaining gem in Labor film of the week. It was financed by a union, and used only a handful of professional actors, while the rest were played by local union members and their families. The film, available on YouTube, gives an uncompromising view of the Empire Zinc Miners Strike in New Mexico. Random82 has been a member since Sept. 2020 and has written seven diaries. This is their first rescue.

As the climate crisis worsened during his tenure, Trump went out of his way to help. Not to help the climate, of course, but to help his industry-connected friends, donors and supporters. One of his most egregious decisions was the appointment of Scott Pruitt to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Like so many of Trump’s cabinet appointments, Pruitt decided that instead of shutting down the agency, there was more money to be made by reversing its mission. In Trump considered abolishing the EPA, DrMarmot takes us back to the Pruitt era and the mountain of challenges that he left for President Biden. This is the author’s second rescue this week.

Daverhagen reminisces about memories and what elements combine to create them in Losing touch during COVID-19 hibernation. Staged events, like Woodstock, “birth a myth...notable for creating a community of strangers. A community of the moment. Other events are only personally memorable but hold consequence for us.” The author contemplates what we are missing during the pandemic’s forced isolation from friends, family, and society. “(W)hat happens to love in a world where people’s touch is imprisoned by fears? The embrace of one’s extended family, the fraternal as well as the familial, speaks a language beyond the limitation of our words. It may not be recognized as such, but touch is a language universal.” Daverhagen joined in 2019 and has written six stories, with three rescued.

Using references my English teacher snubbed, DrLori makes Beowulf pleasurable by taking readers deeper into the poem inflicted on us in high school. In The Language of the Night: Beowulf after Tolkien, she examines scholarship “around Beowulf, the Ur-Daddy of English Literature” beginning with “J.R.R. Tolkien’s all-important essay, Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, which, in addition to showcasing Prof. Tolkien’s dry brand of snark, turned the study of Old English in general, and Beowulf in particular, on its head.” DrLori joined in 2010, and has written 220 stories, with 111 rescued.

In A look at the school re-opening plan set forth by the Biden CDC, bilboteach analyzes the administration’s efforts to get kids, teachers, and staff back into classrooms by the end of April. The pod approach, masking, and funding are the most critical and detailed plan sections. Less robust areas of the CDC plan include minimal suggestions on proper classroom ventilation and no requirement that all staff is vaccinated. “The good news is if pods are done correctly, and the system is in place correctly, a LOT of the concerns I raised six weeks ago are alleviated.” Bilboteach joined in December 2020 and has written 15 diaries, with five rescued.

Fragmented fairytale: Waking up to my life with a narcissistic husband is BootsyVixx’s personal manifesto of freedom from an abusive narcissist. The author describes her growing realization that the person who should be there to support her above all else is actually the one who has been holding her back. “Maybe it was the new environment, or maybe we were thrown together everyday but I started to see … how weak he really is. Huge ego. Self-absorbed. Chronically angry and impossible to please. Blames others for situations he creates. Takes care of his own needs. Just … totally … unilateral in vision.” BootsyVixx joined in 2020 and has written 13 stories. This is their first rescue.

The TRUTH about Shakespeare by new member spadeandarcher takes us out of our worries about COVID-19 and snowstorms into a lively discussion of their passion for Shakespeare. What makes Shakespeare so great, the author asserts, isn't whether he was or wasn't the person we think he was, or that he wrote about kings, queens and princes, but that he takes those characters and makes them come alive in a way that embeds them in our hearts and souls. Thus the author’s truth: Shakespeare is no more or less than "the birthright of every human being on this planet, he is for all mankind for all time." Spadeandarcher joined and published their first story on Feb. 17.

Shackman333, another new member, takes readers on a journey into the “exciting” world of city infrastructure. Burst pipes, pipe bursting, and the American water crisis: Part one explains water main breaks, water loss rate, and cycle time. The reason you probably haven’t ever heard about the health of a municipal water system, except perhaps for Flint, Michigan, is that the infrastructure is out of sight, out of mind (underground) until a problem forces us to look. Shackman333 provides an accessible look at municipal water issues and maintenance choices that drive failure in systems with inadequate repair budgets. “Many cities East of the Mississippi still have wood pipe in service. Wood. Wood water pipe. New wood pipe hasn’t been installed since the late 1800s. Do you think that pipe leaks?” Shackman333 joined and wrote their first story on Feb. 18.

Bill in Waco Texas asks, “Did you ever have an experience that didn’t really register with you as being influential until years or perhaps even decades later?” In Music wins! A personal Black History Month story,  the author shares recollections from high school that answer this question. A talented musician, Bill built a friendship with an African American fellow student bused in to their previously all-white school. They shared musical stylings and taught each other about their different approaches. “Today I realize that we both shared something that would last a lot longer than our jam sessions or trading ‘licks’, and that was the fact that music brought us together in a way that was both completely unexpected and totally predictable!” Bill in Waco Texas joined in 2018 and has written nine stories, with two rescued.

Author AAAMCWB and his husband have been together for decades, formalizing their agreement through marriage multiple times. In Til death do us part, he reflects on how amazing it is to have the legal right to marry and that, even though an emotional bond is powerful, the legal bond adds an important layer. “For years I had said that in our hearts, Timo and I were married, regardless of what some state law may say. While a Supreme Court decision was important, it wouldn’t make a difference to our marriage. I honestly believed those words when I said them. I had no idea how wrong I was.” AAAMCWB joined in 2020 and has written nine stories. This is his first rescue.

Since Mitch D is a big baseball fan, it is natural to describe Trump with a baseball game metaphor. In His deplorable base, the author takes the elder George Bush’s famous quote about being born on third base and applies it to Donald Trump. "Oh, it’s true Trump was born on third base but far from being pleased he’d hit a triple, he was disappointed. He thought, right out of the ‘Lucky Sperm Club’ birthing tube, he should have hit a home run." Mitch D joined in 2018 and has written three stories. This is their first rescue.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

  • To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
  • You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE or using the link in Meteor Blades’ Night Owls open thread that publishes daily between 7-9PM Pacific time.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 1 PM ET (10AM PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 6:30PM ET (3:30PM PT).

Watch doctors, representatives, and the dad of a trans girl battle over anti-trans bill in Alabama

The nation is still facing the novel coronavirus, Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is underway, and more than 400,00 Americans have died already due to COVID-19. In all of this, a slew of states have found time to push anti-trans legislation. Now, Alabama’s state legislator is considering a fiercely transphobic bill, HB 1 and SB 1, that would make it a felony for physicians to provide transgender youth with gender-affirming medical care. In this legislation, gender-affirming care includes surgeries, hormones, and puberty blockers.

If the bill becomes law, physicians who provide gender-affirming care—which, by the way, can be lifesaving for trans youth—could face up to 10 years in prison. And somehow, this isn’t even the worst part of the proposal. Even beyond the language of the bill, however, it’s really the public hearing that involved physicians, members of the committee, and the parent of a transgender daughter that’s worth the long watch.

What makes all of this even worse? The bill essentially necessitates that physicians “out” trans youth to their parents if they request gender-affirming treatment. This is terrifying for trans youth for the same reasons it is for everyone: people deserve privacy, autonomy, and a trusting relationship with a medical professional includes honesty. It’s also terrifying for transgender youth because of potential risk of becoming homeless.

Republican Rep. Wes Allen sponsored and introduced the bill, with Republican Reps. Chip Brown and Shane Stringer also sponsoring it.

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing to discuss the bill. One man, who introduced himself as a former police investigator, spoke about his daughter coming out to him as transgender at the age of sixteen, and how he initially suspected his child was gay. He talked about being “ignorant” and “not knowing anything” about transgender children, and that in investigating, he learned that transgender youth are disproportionately likely to attempt suicide—but that statistic drops when transgender youth get affirmation and acceptance. His speech was deeply earnest and moving. 

Later in the public hearing, he added, “I didn’t want my kids to be short,” the dad said. “Much less transgender.” His point being that parents don’t push their kids into being transgender or force hormones on them, but rather that parents want their kids to fit in and be safe. So, he had a learning process in understanding and accepting, and now argues on behalf of transgender youth getting the support and treatment they need and deserve.

A number of physicians did speak. On the one hand, a plastic surgeon appeared and spoke in favor of the bill. On the other hand, a physician spoke who argued against the bill in terms of its privacy violations, discussing that the law, as written, would take away confidentiality needed between minors and patients. This physician framed the issue in terms of abuse but obviously makes sense in terms of gender-affirming care as well. 

One representative noted they don’t have “medical training” and asked the physician arguing in favor of the bill to send studies he referenced. I believe the study in question is this one, a long-term study out of Sweden, that looks at suicidality and gender-affirming care. This physician used buzzwords like “mutilation,” “gender confusion,” and “transgenderism.” He described the use of some puberty blockers as a “public experiment.” 

“No one is served by a delusion,” the plastic surgeon stated at one point, adding that “affirmation therapy is the problem.” In reference to whether transgender youth should see psychiatrists or psychologists, he stressed that therapy is good, but that “We don’t want to affirm them in something that is not true.”

Now, of course, it makes sense that representatives can ask questions of people who appear at public hearings. What’s deeply concerning, however, is that there are, too, a number of physicians and health experts who are in favor of gender-affirming care—but they weren’t answering questions. Basically: Medicine, like many things in life, is not without bias. 

Thankfully, one representative did clarify that they’re speaking to him as though he’s the “premiere expert” on transgender youth, and asked what his specific area is, as well as what his peers and colleagues believe. Basically: Is the physician in front of us arguing the consensus of the medical committee, or is this a fringe opinion? (It’s not the consensus of the medical community, though, sadly, transphobia is also rampant in medicine, so it is far from a solitary perspective.)

“You’re not a pediatrician,” one representative asked, further clarifying. “You don’t necessarily treat gender dysphoria?”

The physician clarified that he does treat children, and noted, “In fact, they even label me as trans-friendly,” adding that he does hair removal as part of his practice. He clarified that if someone came to him for gender dysphoria, he would refer them to a psychologist. 

One representative snapped back against the plastic surgeon on the basis that what they’re really legislating is how people care for their children, as well as the fact that this legislation would make some medical care a literal felony.

Perhaps amplifying how clearly confusing this situation was, one representative asked: “Why in the world is this judiciary and not health? Or somebody who has some background?” There wasn’t a precise answer for that question, but perhaps reinforces why these bills continue to bubble up around the nation, and why people are, frankly, so misinformed. 

“It is terribly hard to be a transgender person in this world, anywhere,” the dad said in reference to Sweden's study on suicidality. That’s sadly, terribly, true—and a big reminder that we need structural, systemic change on every single level. 

Members did not vote on Wednesday. 

You can watch this session below.