Shaw: Stop the hate in Bismarck

"All of these cruel bills are out to solve problems that don’t exist," writes columnist Jim Shaw of recent proposals surrounding the LGBTQ community.

Jim Shaw
Jim Shaw

The North Dakota Legislature has shamefully become a hate brigade. Many Republican lawmakers have launched a frightening assault against the LGBTQ community. The leaders of this nasty brigade include Bismarck Rep. Brandon Prichard, West Fargo Rep. Ben Koppelman, Minot Rep. Lori VanWinkle and West Fargo Sen. David Clemens.

The main target of their hate is transgender people. There are countless disturbing bills against them, such as ones that deny their identity, prevent them from receiving needed medical treatment, ban their participation in sports, determine how they are to be referred to and tell them where to go to the bathroom.

The bills have the same alarming message: That transgender people are not wanted here and something is wrong with them. The haters refuse to recognize that gender dysphoria is real. That people can be born with a male’s body but a female’s mind, and vice versa.

Sadly, transgender people are easy to bully because they are small in numbers, unlike the religious zealots in the legislature who are out to demonize them. Equally sad is transgender people are very vulnerable with a high suicide rate. All these bills only make things worse.

Not content with just persecuting transgender people, hate brigade leader Prichard is going after the entire LGBTQ community with his bills about gay conversion therapy and drag shows.


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“As a doctor, it’s tough to hear that these legislators think they know better than I do how to take care of people,” Dr. Mayson Bedient said.
“Historically the church hasn’t been kind to transgender people. A lot of churches still aren’t kind to transgender people," pastor Micah Louwagie said. "But St. Mark's has given me a lot of hope.”
"The North Dakota Legislature works in mysterious ways."
The session will feature speaker Ryan Nagle, assistant executive director of North Dakota United, a union of teachers and public workers.
"We wouldn’t deny children proper treatment for cancer or heart problems, and we shouldn’t deny treatment for gender dysphoria," columnist Jim Shaw writes.

Prichard wants to establish in state law that performing gay conversion therapy is “not an ethical violation.” It is. This “therapy” is an attempt to turn gay people into straight people. It doesn’t work. It’s legalized torture. The practice is extremely harmful to those who go through it, and has been condemned by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association.

Jory Miller, who grew up on a farm near Minot, went through the “therapy.” “I was told my same-sex attraction was a perversion and an illness,” Miller told me. “I felt shame and guilt…It’s a delusional and manipulative mind game. It tries to fix something that isn’t broken.”

Prichard’s attempt to ban children from attending drag shows would be laughable, if it wasn’t so frightening. Actually, those shows can be entertaining and amusing. Prichard should leave the decision to attend such shows up to parents, similar to letting their kids watch certain movies. Speaking of which, are hate brigade members going to barge into our homes if we watch classic movies with our children such as “Some Like it Hot,” “Tootsie” and “Mrs. Doubtfire?”

Where did all these mean bills come from? Lawmakers from both parties tell me their constituents are concerned about property taxes and shortages for child care and the workforce, but don’t bring up bashing transgender people. If hate brigade members had actually talked to medical experts or people who are LGBTQ, they would have learned these bills are dangerous and defy accepted science.

All of these cruel bills are out to solve problems that don’t exist. People who are LGBTQ are not criminals or threats to us. It’s time for legislators to stop the hate, treat them with love and leave them alone.

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

Opinion by Jim Shaw
InForum columnist Jim Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
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