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Coerced speech

To the editor:

Over the course of the past several weeks, The Journal has published a series of letters addressing the issue of LGTBQ “rights” and their application in a public school setting. The editor (and some readers) will be relieved to hear that I do not intend to continue debating the intended meaning of the word “intentional” in the state’s anti-bullying statute. The wording of the statute is ambiguous, as previous letters have demonstrated.

At the heart of this debate is a basic truth, which is upheld by one side and denied by the other: Men cannot be women, and women cannot be men. There are two genders, and a person is either one or the other.

In her previous letters, Ms. Casey McMullen sets forth a description of a public school policy that, in effect, would prohibit teachers and students from expressing that truth in their choice of the pronouns by which they refer to certain LGBTQ students. If a student uses a pronoun that correctly identifies another student’s gender rather than using a pronoun that effectively denies the person’s gender, Ms. McMullen insists that this student is “misgendering” the other student, and must be regarded as a bully to be corrected and disciplined. She insists that this is the intent and correct meaning of our state’s anti-bullying statute.

If this is true, then we as a society are headed in a bad direction. If the students in our schools are no longer allowed to express the truth in words of their own choosing, but instead are coerced under threat of punishment into speaking only state-approved words that deny the truth, then we are in the process of losing our freedom. Then we are headed down the road toward state control over every aspect of our lives.

Coerced speech is not free speech. We must not allow our government or its schools to abuse its power in this area. We must not allow them to suppress the truth or to enforce any speech code that forces our children to deny the truth.

Michael Thom

New Ulm

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