In a statement as bigoted as it is ignorant, conspiracist congresswoman Lauren Boebert suggested that LGBTQ people should be at least 21 before they make any “decisions” about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
To state the obvious: Alcohol harms you. Tobacco harms you. Being gay, bi, or trans harms nobody… except, I suppose, those who wish they didn’t exist.
Boebert’s bigotry—a belief that’s shared by a large swath of white evangelicals and the Republican Party itself—implies that sexual orientation and gender identity are things you can just suddenly switch on one day. That’s not how anything works. Straight, cis people don’t have to wait till they’re 21 to declare themselves anything. No one questions it when they talk about grade-school crushes, who they’re dating, or how they self-identify.
On the other hand, when it comes to making life-altering decisions, North Carolina and Alaska allow 14-year-olds to get married, while most other states (including Boebert’s Colorado) permit marriage for people under 18. Boebert also thinks it’s fine for kids to carry firearms, which could be life-altering depending on how they use them. Also life-altering? Dropping out of school and having a baby, two things Boebert herself did before turning 21. Those things, by themselves, aren’t necessarily problems, but it’s not like Boebert is trying to regulate either one of them. It’s just utter hypocrisy from someone who brings nothing else to the political table.
All of this is especially rich coming from a conservative Christian. Most believers would tell you there’s no decision more “life-altering” than accepting Christ and getting baptized—yet many religious denominations baptize babies or encourage teenagers to become “born again.” They think children are mature enough to make a decision about eternity but LGBTQ people can’t be trusted to know themselves.
Boebert isn’t looking out for the best interests of LGBTQ people. She’s singling them out for a particular kind of bigotry, as if they’re incapable of understanding themselves until a particular age. Meanwhile, Boebert herself is exempt from such rules and has the power to bar LGBTQ people from openly being their true selves without consequences.
It’s not even an honest rhetorical question. Because even if they waited until they were 21 before coming out as LGBTQ, it’s not like Republicans would finally accept them. Hell, the same bigots are eager to undo marriage equality, allow discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace, and deny them equal rights everywhere else. They don’t care about children, because they’re putting faith-based hatred over medical and psychological expertise.
Being LGBTQ isn’t a choice. It’s not a decision. None of it happens lightly or on a whim. The only people who seem to think otherwise are the conservatives eager to push them back into the closet by spreading lies about what those identities and orientations mean.