When we drove our first child home from the hospital, I sat in the backseat of the car so I could gaze uninterrupted at that perfect little person. I kept my hand securely on that car seat, even though two burly firefighters had professionally secured it just days prior. Nothing mattered more than making my baby feel safe and loved.
That’s still true today, over 20 years later, although the U.S. Supreme Court just made my job a bit harder.
303 Creative LLC v. Elenis was technically a case that determined whether applying a public accommodation law to force an artist to speak violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The verdict: It does. In plain English, the court ruled that a business owner who wants to make wedding websites for straight couples can refuse to make them for LGBTQ+ people.
I’ll leave the legal analysis to experts who can carefully parse the intersection of religious liberty and free speech. What I know is that six justices sided with a person who wants to discriminate against people like my daughter, which is a painful assault on my motherly instincts to protect her from harm.
My daughter is 22 years old, but it seems like just yesterday I was cutting her grapes in half, admiring her crayon drawings, and encouraging her to practice violin. I did all I could to make her feel confident and cherished. I doubled down when she struggled mightily with gender dysphoria and mental health challenges. Today she’s a thriving transgender woman with a good job, wonderful friends, and her own apartment. I’m fiercely proud of her and what she’s overcome.
When she was young, the hardest part of parenting was the physical work — feeding her, bathing her, protecting her from choking hazards. Now that she’s older, my hardest work is emotional. I worry.
That’s why it makes my head explode to see hateful and discouraging developments, of which this Supreme Court ruling is only the latest. A hug and a snack used to make everything OK, but now I’m in uncharted parenting territory.
I can’t change the fact that books with LGBTQ+ characters and themes are being banned from schools and libraries, or that 22 states have passed laws preventing trans kids from playing sports consistent with their gender identity. Over 30% of trans youth live in states that have passed bans on gender-affirming care. Is it any wonder my daughter suffers from minority stress?
Now the Supreme Court has decided that bias against LGBTQ+ people is both legitimate and legal. The business owner of 303 Creative even wanted her website to proactively advertise the fact that she won’t make gay wedding websites. Prospective customers don’t even have to make contact to feel like second-class citizens.
Thus continues the decline in status of people like my daughter who are just trying to live their lives in our allegedly free society. It’s a slippery slope from sanctioned discrimination to serious harm, and we’re sliding down it.
[J]udgments like this ruling interrupt the momentum of progress and embolden bigots who delight to see an esteemed institution deciding in their favor.
Hatred and bigotry make the world a cruel place for LGBTQ people, which is why they are more likely than straight people to attempt suicide. Incidents of violence and harassment against transgender people in particular are widespread in the United States.
Researching this data and sharing it here is borderline traumatic for me as a parent. I look at my daughter and only see that sweet cherub who loved to blow bubbles in the bathtub and read stories. She didn’t ask for this. She deserves a world that’s kinder than this.
Recently some haters vandalized a church in Jamaica Plain with nasty homophobic slurs, bringing the hate disturbingly close to home. My daughter lives near this church. She may have passed the culprits walking down the street. What if they had confronted her? Spewed ugly words, or worse? These are the fears that keep me up at night.
While I gratefully acknowledge the overall arc toward acceptance and allyship, judgments like this ruling interrupt the momentum of progress and embolden bigots who delight to see an esteemed institution deciding in their favor. And some of them are dangerous.
Releasing grown children into the world has never been easy. I’m not the first person to realize that being a parent means I’ll always have worries, even after 22 years. I just wish the Supreme Court wouldn’t add to them.