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To Speak Or Not To Speak

Answers For The Heart

Our nation is grappling with a culturally and historically defining moment right now. This moment is playing out on political, religious, educational, and medical stages all across America. I want to define this moment by looking at a specific event that is occurring right now in Montana. But before this event is considered, I want you to meditate on the following statistics.

According to the latest CDC health survey, which looked at data from between 2017 and 2020, “1.4 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds and 1.3 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds were transgender, compared with about 0.5 percent of all adults.” This number represents about 300,000 young people (double the previous estimate) - This phenomenon of LGBTQ proliferation seems to be a generational experience. Generation Z (1997-2004) is experiencing an explosion of LGBT identification with 19.7% of that group identifying as LGBT, compared with 11.2% of Millennials (1981-1996), 3.3% of Generation X (1965-1980), 2.7% of Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and 1.7% of Traditionalists (before 1946).

Now let’s look at the case in point. Recently, a transgender lawmaker has been prohibited from speaking on the Montana House chamber floor because of remarks made charging that if a certain bill (banning gender-affirming care) passed, lawmakers would have “blood on their hands,” because the passage of this bill would apparently, and inevitably, lead to more suicides. Eventually, this lawmaker was banned from the Montana House floor after violating what was considered “decorum,” and inciting a riotous protest in the chamber itself. This lawmaker was requested to vote only in proxy, and not in person. The matter was further defined by the leadership of the House stating that the lawmaker would be allowed back on the House floor after an apology to the body of legislators, which offer has thus far been refused. Needless to say, this has caused quite a stir across the country.

Did the Montana legislature actually ban this legislator from speaking? Someone says, “You can’t do that! We have First Amendment rights, you know!” Can someone claim First Amendment protection in a situation like this?

First, let it be stated that there are times when an American’s First Amendment right to free speech may be restricted. Have you ever heard of a gag order? A gag order is when a judge tells someone that they cannot speak publicly about a certain matter. If they do speak about that matter publicly, they can be punished. There are also other times when free speech may be curtailed. For example, child pornography is not considered “free speech.” It is illegal and can be, rightfully, punished. If speech incites imminent lawless action, that is not protected speech. Speech that causes harm to another person’s reputation (defamation) is also an exception to free speech and can be punished, by law.

The point is obvious. If this lawmaker violated the legislative process and what was considered “decorum,” by certain forms of speech, then the legislative body has every right to administer some form of corrective discipline which may include restricting the right of this individual to speak on the House floor.

Now what about the claim that lawmakers will have “blood on their hands,” implying that suicide rates will increase if the bill and its amendments pass? It has been repeatedly stated by transgender advocates that banning gender-affirming care will increase suicide rates. Is this true?

A senior research fellow (Jay Greene) at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy states that research shows that kids who undergo cross-sex medical interventions without parental consent (which is being increasingly pushed) are more likely to commit suicide. Here are his words, exactly,

“Lowering legal barriers to make it easier for minors to undergo cross-sex medical interventions without parental consent does not reduce suicide rates—in fact, it likely leads to higher rates of suicide among young people in states that adopt these changes. States should instead adopt parental bills of rights that affirm the fact that parents have primary responsibility for their children’s education and health, and that require school officials and health professionals to receive permission from parents before administering health services, including medication and “gender-affirming” counseling, to children under 18. States should also tighten the criteria for receiving cross-sex treatments, including raising the minimum eligibility age.”

So far seventeen state legislatures have banned gender-affirming care up to the age of eighteen. Sixteen other states are considering, or are in the process of banning such care. This is well over half the states in our nation that have either banned gender-affirming care for minors or are deliberating banning such care. To date, it has been estimated that over 385 bills dealing with the issue of transgenderism (including transgender males participating in women’s sports) have been introduced in state legislatures all over America. This matter is also playing out on the federal level with various bills being introduced.

Ultimately, this conflict has a moral, yes even a religious and biblical element. Why? The Montana lawmaker in question also challenged the Montana bill on the grounds that its language concerning male and female as binary cannot be legislated. Actually, the words “male” and “female” can and should be included in legislative pronouncements. Male and female are the most basic units of understanding that exist concerning the human experience. In fact, these words go all the way back to the beginning!

Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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