Taxpayer-funded equity event tied invention of ‘gender binary to anti-Blackness’

(The Center Square) – A psychologist told educators and equity workers during a federally funded event that “we want our children to be queer” and stressed the importance of gender-affirming…

(The Center Square) – A psychologist told educators and equity workers during a federally funded event that “we want our children to be queer” and stressed the importance of gender-affirming care, which has been prohibited by dozens of states.

During a webinar organized by the Educational Equity Network, presenter Laura Minero told teachers and other staff that the idea of a gender binary stems from anti-Blackness and that “heterocissexism … is deadly,” referring to unfounded claims about the motivation for the PULSE nightclub shooter in 2016. 

Minero made the comments during an Educational Equity Virtual Leadership Series Institute presentation, which functions as a branch of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and is funded by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

It was not immediately clear how Minero’s talk, called “Toward Decolonizing our Understanding of 2SQT+ Communities: An Anti-racist, Intersectional and Radical Love Approach,” was tied to special education. 

When asked whether students who were gender expansive received misdiagnoses or were directed to special education programs because of their journey to find themselves, Minero said “that has not been much of my experience.” 

“One of my visions for the world is that we see queerness as a gift,” Minero said. She continued to say that she has often heard people ask, “What if your child is gay?”

“We want our children to be queer,” Minero told educators. “That is my vision for the world. To be queer is magical. To be queer is the embodiment of love. It is the embodiment of love, and that should be celebrated.

“I want us here to create a world where two-spirit, queer and trans people are referred to as nothing less than magical, as nothing less than who we are,” Minero said. 

Minero said social and political systems have disrupted our natural state of radical self-love.

During the presentation, Minero said two-spirit, queer and trans-affirming means “meeting people where they are at in terms of how they identify and stop questioning them.” 

“Everyone should have the opportunity to live in the gender and sexuality that feels most real and comfortable with them and for them and have the ability to express that without restricting them, criticizing them or ostracizing them,” Minero said.

Last week, South Carolina passed a law that prohibits minors from receiving gender-affirming care. Critics say that youth are irreversibly changed by the medical interventions. Half of states prohibit those under 18 from receiving gender-affirming care.

Minero said gender is a spectrum everyone is on and that educators can help “destigmatize fluidity.”

At another point in the presentation, Minero said that “the invention of the gender binary is directly correlated and stems from anti-Blackness.”

Minero said that before indigenous societies across the world were colonized, they did not have rigid gender roles and that much of that history has been “kept from us and erased.” 

Minero said that when most people discuss intersectionality, they are talking about it in relation to different overlapping identities and not how it was intended to be understood.

“What Kimberlé Crenshaw intended was that the theory of intersectionality means that we need to examine that we all have axes of privilege and oppression and it’s not our identities that determine that, it’s the systems that determine what our experience is from moment to moment,” Minero said. 

Minero said that Ibram X. Kendi, another guest speaker for the Institute, completely changed her life through his work. 

“If we do not name the abuse, we cannot work on it,” Minero said. “[Kendi] says, ‘It is our actions from moment to moment that determine whether we are being racist or antiracist.’

“Because of that, he says, anyone has the capacity to be racist, anyone, even him as a Black man and me as a Latine,” Minero said. “It is our actions that determine whether we are racist or antiracist.”

Minero said that she has taken Kendi’s theory and expanded it. 

“In order for us to reach collective liberation, we have to strive to not only be anti-racist but we also have to be anti-sexist, anti-heterosexist, anti-cissexist, anti-agist, anti-ableist, anti-colonial, and the list will go on and on,” Minero said.  

“Heterocissexism, a preference for folks who are heterosexual and cisgender, is deadly,” Minero said.

Minero said that the shooting at the PULSE nightclub changed her life because it made her think about how she was complacent and contributed to the normalization of joking at the expense of someone who is trans or saying negative things about two-spirit, queer and trans people. 

“It’s those types of things that eventually lead to this type of violence,” Minero said. “We affirm and validate this type of violence.” 

Despite initial media reports that the PULSE nightclub shooter was targeting LGBTQ+ people, 911 calls and court documents later revealed that the ISIS-involved gunman picked the location at random and told negotiators it was related to U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, according to a report from NBC News

According to a public records request filed by Chalkboard, Minero received $5,000 for her presentation. During the event, state employees acknowledged that the cost of the Institute was covered by taxpayer funds.

Kendi, who also was a featured speaker, was paid $15,000 for his “generative conversation” Thursday.