A Michigan state lawmaker’s speech is going viral for condemning bigoted remarks from her Republican colleague and for defending those who are trying to protect LGBTQ students’ rights and preserve lessons on racism in public school classrooms.
Speaking in the Michigan legislature on Tuesday, State Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D) said she was not expecting to see a fundraising email earlier this week from fellow state Sen. Lana Theis (R) accusing her of “grooming” and “sexualizing” children. Those terms have become more and more common among far right politicians and pundits, who are using them to legitimize, at least among their base, the elimination of protections for LGBTQ children throughout the country.
McMorrow also noted that the fundraising email accused her of supporting lessons that supposedly make children feel bad for being white — another common talking point among those pushing for bans on critical race theory and other lessons on racism in public school classrooms.
The fundraising email from Theis, which included extremely derogatory language against LGBTQ people, accused Democrats, including McMorrow, of walking out of an invocation prayer she had given earlier this month. Theis claimed that the prayer, conducted on the state Senate floor, was to ask God to “protect” children who were “under attack.” Given her staunch opposition to protections for LGBTQ students and her statements opposing educators who teach about racism in classrooms, it was clear that her prayer was a politically-loaded attack rather than a true call for unity.
The accusations from Theis against McMorrow and others were not only wrong but deeply offensive, the Democratic lawmaker said.
“I sat on it for a while wondering, ‘Why me?’ And then I realized — I am the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme,” McMorrow said in her speech, directing her comments toward Theis. “You can’t claim that you are targeting marginalized kids in the name of ‘parental rights’ if another parent is standing up to say ‘no.'”
Instead, McMorrow pointed out, Republicans who issue such lines of attack “dehumanize and marginalize” those who are trying to protect LGBTQ students.
Senator Lana Theis accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an attempt to marginalize me for standing up against her marginalizing the LGBTQ community…in a fundraising email, for herself.
Hate wins when people like me stand by and let it happen. I won't. pic.twitter.com/jL5GU42bTv
— Mallory McMorrow (@MalloryMcMorrow) April 19, 2022
McMorrow also addressed Theis’s accusations that she had supposedly pushed for lessons that make white kids feel bad. In her fundraising email, Theis accused McMorrow of embracing lessons that tell “8-year-olds [they] are responsible for slavery.”
“I am a straight, white, Christian, married suburban mom, who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that ‘children are being taught to feel bad and hate themselves because they are white’ is absolute nonsense,” McMorrow said, quoting a part of Theis’s email. She added:
No child alive today is responsible for slavery. No one in this room is responsible for slavery. But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history … We are not responsible for the past. We also cannot change the past. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen, or deny people their very right to exist.
McMorrow denounced Theis for her “performative” attacks against her and others, and accused the lawmaker of using her Christian faith as “a shield to target and marginalize already marginalized people.”
“I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard and supported, not marginalized and not targeted because they are not straight, white and Christian,” McMorrow said. “We cannot let hateful people tell you otherwise to scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people’s lives.”
“I hope [the fundraising email] brought in a few dollars,” McMorrow added sarcastically, directing her comments at Theis. “I hope it made you sleep good last night.”