Say NO to legislation that could be used to silence Pennsylvanians

Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) has introduced a package of bills – House Bills 1024, 1025, 1026, and 1027 – that would give government the tools to punish those who disagree with radical gender ideology. The underlying danger with Rep. Frankel’s package of “hate crimes” bills is their ability to silence people – using criminal consequences. Rep. Frankel’s bills would force a new arbitrary system of wide-reaching criminal charges on Pennsylvania citizens that would blacklist and demonize those who hold opposing views on areas of sexuality, marriage, and what it means to be male and female. This is state-sanctioned discrimination in some of its worst forms. These bills are unnecessary and would unjustly target Pennsylvania citizens.    

Consider Liam Morrison, a 12-year-old boy from Massachusetts, who wore a T-shirt at school that declared there are “only two genders,” which he was told made other students feel “unsafe.” Morrison was sent home from school for his act. Suppose Morrison was subject to these bills. Someone could make a report that they suffered a dignitary harm and were made to feel unsafe – either of which would constitute an “other type of injury.” No doubt someone would claim – unfairly – that the statement was motivated by hatred towards their non-binary gender identity. Someone may object that no investigation will occur unless there’s an underlying crime. But the definition of certain catch-all offenses, like disorderly conduct, can be used in conjunction with this section to make a report and start an investigation and even to result in a charge.

Two high school girls from Vermont were subject to a harassment investigation for asking a 14-year-old biological boy who identified as a girl to leave their locker room. One of the girls, Blake, explains the complaints filed against her.

I have harassment, hazement and bullying charges…I’m glad I spoke out because there’s still, like, so much that could be done, that the law could be changed, because now it’s national news. He had the right to go in, but, like, once we said we were uncomfortable, he should have just left. It should have been that simple.

One of the girls talks about another boy in their school who files complaints of harassment against any girl that may even look at him wrong.

…they didn’t identify as trans. They said they were gay and that they weren’t attracted to me, so they were allowed in…In the past years, [the gay students have been using the girls’ bathrooms]…The school didn’t care much to listen to our concerns, and then when we did say something, the person, he would file complaints of harassment because I looked at him wrong and [he] filed complaints against a lot of people. 

Too many ideologically-based investigations are already occurring. We don’t need to supply those who desire to impose ideological conformity with any more tools. 

Riley Gaines, former University of Kentucky swimmer, and women’s sports advocate, recently spoke with Dr. Jordan Peterson on his podcast about her experience swimming against a trans-identifying male, Lia Thomas, at the NCAA swimming championships last year. While talking about her own experience, she shared what she’s heard from the University of Pennsylvania female swimmers who were forced into silence about their concerns with having a male on their team. 

Last year at the University of Pennsylvania, members of the female swim team were forced to attend weekly LGBTQ trainings, referred to mental health counselors, and threatened with retaliation in the form of loss of scholarships, graduate school recommendations, and career references for objecting to biological male Lia Thomas competing in their category and using their locker room. 

They were told that they were not allowed to take a stance because their school has already taken their stance for them. They were told you will never get a job, you will never get into grad school, you will lose all your friends, you’ll lose playing time, you’ll lose your scholarship if you speak out. They were told that if you happen to speak out and any harm whatsoever comes towards Lia Thomas’ way, whether that be physical harm, emotional harm, whatever that looked like, then they were solely responsible.

Under these bills, all of the swimmers who expressed their objections (including at least one who had been raped in high school and experienced trauma from sharing a locker room with Thomas) could find themselves reported, investigated, and charged.

In a free society we should respect everyone. That includes room for freedom of expression for people to disagree on important issues. We shouldn’t give tools to investigate persons like the student with the T-shirt, the high school girls seeking privacy in their locker room, or the college athletes. Subjecting persons to investigation at a time like this will not result in respect, but it will certainly result in extreme forms of censorship and chilled speech.