She-Males in the Classroom. Oh My!

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Christian conservatives have long warned that if gays and lesbians were allowed equal rights in the workplace, they would rush into the public schools and seize the opportunity to spread the “homosexual lifestyle” among the country’s impressionable youth. Those attacks have lost traction as gays have won more legal protections and openly gay teachers have joined the educational mainstream. But leave it to the Traditional Values Coalition to revive the gay teacher line as it’s sought to kill off legislation pending in Congress that would finally protect gays and lesbians from workplace discrimination. The inspiration for the latest attack comes from a provision in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, better known as ENDA, that also would extend workforce protections to transexuals.

Over the past year, the Traditional Values Coalition has issued numerous hysterical reports warning about all the hypothetical dangers of giving “she-males” the legally protected right to pee in the ladies room, for instance. But apparently American women aren’t too worried about drag queens in the loo, so TVC has ramped up its scary rhetoric with a new website launched Tuesday focusing on the threat the legislation poses to, yes, the nation’s precious public school children. As TVC puts it, if ENDA passes,

“your children will be trapped in classes taught by drag queens and transgender activists. Students will be indoctrinated that “alternative lifestyles” are no different than traditional lifestyles. Young children will be forced to learn about bizarre sexual fetishes – and you will have no say in the matter. It is already happening in some states and concerned parents can’t do a thing about it.”

It’s hard to know whether TVC’s new campaign will resonate with the public. The “Will and Grace” generation is about to become a significant voting block and have kids themselves, and all the polling data suggests that they might find such hyperbolic appeals insensitive and ridiculously out of touch with reality. TVC is clearly trying its best to stun them into support (and donations!) with a parade of potential ENDA horrors. But as with its potty paranoia reports, TVC is really stretching to make a compelling case. In fact, some of its material could end up backfiring. ENDAhurtskids.com features all of three instances since 1999 where children were forced to learn from someone undergoing gender reassignment and whose parents were unable to either get the teacher fired or move their kids to another classroom. Some people might consider that progress.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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