Opinions

Lawmakers Don’t Care About Your Kids

Aiden Lutjen, contributor

I’m sick and tired of hearing about how much our country’s government officials just love kids. Everything is “for the kids:” banning drag, throwing out many libraries’ worth of books, attempting to rewrite history and detransitioning and outing transgender people. As long as you put “for the kids” at the end of your selfish political goals, people will hop right on board because “oh, well, it’s for the kids’ sake!” so it must ultimately be a good thing, right? Oh, if only we lived in such a simple world. The reality is that your lawmakers couldn’t care less about your kids, and I have the evidence to prove it.

First of all, Republicans are loosening child labor laws. An anti-age verification bill was just recently passed in Arkansas, meanwhile, a similar bill is advancing in Missouri. Don’t forget Iowa wanting to allow children as young as 14 to work in meatpacking plants while also providing protections to the business if said children were to get sick, hurt or even killed on the job! And no, Minnesota didn’t escape this one — we have a bill at the moment that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to work in construction. Did we just completely forget why we banned child labor in the first place?

What about lead? You’d think we’d all at least agree that keeping lead pipes to supply our water is a bad idea, but apparently not! Republicans opposed lead pipe removal several times in the past few years. Hopefully, I don’t have to remind anyone just how insanely toxic lead is, not to mention how the city of Flint, Michigan still suffers lasting effects from its lead and bacteria-induced water crisis that “ended” in 2019.

Okay, well, what about food? We can all agree that children should be properly fed in schools, right? Wrong again! Republicans also voted against bills that would have schools provide children with healthy and free meals. A Minnesota Republican senator, Steve Drazkowski, voiced his reason as to why he voted in such a way: He had “yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry.” I wonder who got to tell him that an estimated 300,000 Minnesotans are hungry every day.

Maybe we can agree that disabled children shouldn’t get beaten in school by teachers. Or that children shouldn’t carry guns? What about child marriage? We can all agree that’s bad and ban it, right? Incorrect on all three! Republicans not only support and actively fight against the banning of child marriage — it’s 100% legal in 43 states — but they have also voted to allow teachers to keep beating disabled students in Oklahoma and voted to allow children to open-carry guns in public places without adult supervision in Missouri.

Republicans also voted against providing mental health care in schools for students, despite swearing up and down that mental health is the root issue of gun violence. Republicans voted against preventing schools from monitoring children’s menstrual cycles. Republicans voted against a bill that would have prevented the erasure of the Holocaust in schools. Republicans voted for bills that would ban all books even touching on the transgender community. Republicans voted for bills that would ban any classroom discussion on racism — there’s more I can list.

Any lawmaker that claims they back a bill “for the children’s sake” is lying through their teeth. The only reason they’re banning things is because of their own personal biases and bigotry. They can’t stand people who are different or have different views from their own, so they weaponize “for the kids!” to further their own agenda. They’re only for “freedom for all” if that “all” only includes everyone exactly like them. They have lost nothing in this long and pointless battle over human rights. They are not suffering, they are not starving, they are not hurting, and they are not dying. We are.