Last week, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed SB O466 / HB 1269 which will protect public school teachers and employees in the Volunteer state from being for forced to use newly discovered pronouns by demanding students. This will safeguard many from being compelled to participate in and appear to affirm a baseless ideology they rightfully do not believe in. More states and workplaces would do well to pass such legislation.

The bill correctly asserts that public school employees “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression while at work” and should not be compelled to say things they believe to be untrue. This is the situation more faithful public-school teachers, administrators and support staff find themselves faced with given increasing numbers of young people today announcing they have adopted some new gender identity and demand everyone else affirm them.

The text of the bill states, “A teacher or employee of a public school or [local education agency] should never be compelled to affirm a belief with which the teacher or employee disagrees.” This refreshingly short, crisp piece of legislation simply establishes no employee should be “required to use a student’s preferred pronoun when referring to the student if the preferred pronoun is not consistent with the student’s biological sex.” It adds no one will be “civilly liable for using a pronoun that is consistent with the biological sex of the student to whom the teacher or employee is referring, even if the pronoun is not the student’s preferred pronoun” (emphasis added).

This is a very important piece of legislation because it protects citizens from being bullied into using language that reflects an ideology they do not believe ­­- and no objective science supports. Students forcing all others around them to play along with their self-confusion is becoming an epidemic. Those who refuse this belief system must be protected and this bill does precisely that.

It is vital that we understand exactly what is going on with our young people on this topic in order to fully appreciate the importance of protecting the rights of people to dissent from participating in this ideology.

The Social Contagion of Gender Choice is Associated with Higher Mental Illness

Dr. Eric Kaufmann, professor of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London, has conducted important research into this social contagion of creative gender identity and its association with increased mental illness. He writes about this in an essay over at Quillette. It is clear, the number of young people suddenly “identifying” as some new gender has absolutely exploded in recent years. This phenomenon has the marks of social contagion, rather than any actual objective clinical diagnosis.

Even HBO’s Bill Maher has surgically lampooned this outbreak among young people.

And the data is clear, LGBT identity is associated with increased mental distress. And this data does not support the notion this is because we are failing to “affirm” such people. Quite the opposite.

Last year, The Atlantic Monthly published this chart in a major article about dramatically decreasing mental well-being among American teens.

Note that top line.

According to the CDC, LGBT-identified youth are the most unhappy of all youth and that number is spiking at the precise time nearly every major sector of our culture is working overtime to make them feel fabulous about themselves.

Kaufmann in his work reports the most up-to-date numbers show that young people who report being “LGBT” are 2.5 times more likely to report experiencing greater depression and anxiety than their more conservative and traditional peers. And he adds that the more liberal these LGBT-identified youth are in their politics and ideology, the greater their mental health distress.

Kaufmann confirms this has only gotten worse as affirmation increases.

So, between 2002 and 2012, seven percent of unhappy people under 30 were LGBT. However, by 2018–2021, 22 percent of unhappy young people were LGBT—all during a period of rising toleration for sexual minorities. The well-known high incidence of mental illness among transgender youth is merely the most visible tip of a wider problem. [emphasis added]

The “celebrate-them-so-they-will-feel-better” mantra is not only not working, but it is producing the opposite effect. These kids are getting worse the more we celebrate their radical, self-diagnosed, self-declared identities. Let that sink in.

And there is good reason to believe in a connection here.

Recent research published in the scientific journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology is reporting that adolescents who self-identify as LGBT are found to suffer from “rapidly increasing anxiety” across all measurements compared to peers who do not. The six scholars conducting this research confirm, “These results align with findings that sexual and gender minority youth experience high prevalence of psychological distress, including mood and anxiety disorders, as well as disparities in their mental health compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts…”

And no, things are not getting better among the youngest of these teens as “LGBTQ pride” grows. They explain, “Results are consistent” that “Generation Z youth report [elevated] issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity as a source of stress.”

There is more. Newly published university-based research from Australia, drawing from a long-term study of nearly 12,000 women born between 1989 and 1995, shows largely the same thing for women, by far the largest group identifying with exploratory genders and sexualities. Among younger women,

…psychological distress was [significantly] elevated when women changed their identity away from the heterosexual norm and [markedly] lowered when they changed their identity towards it. … In addition, women unsure of their identity at multiple assessment points reported significantly greater psychological distress in the final assessment than women who were never unsure.

Again, this has remained true even as the celebration and affirmation of all things “LGBT” has enjoyed dramatic, unimagined heights. In fact, it is honestly difficult to imagine how such social affirmation for alternative sexualities and gender identities could significantly increase.

Is Greater Freedom and Diversity Driving This Unhappiness?

Dr. Liah Greenfeld, professor of sociology, political science, and anthropology at Boston University, is the author of Mind, Modernity, Madness: The Impact of Culture on Human Experience (Harvard University Press) and explained the connection recently in The Wall Street Journal, stating,

The evidence points to a historical and cultural explanation of the increase in incidence rates [of declining mental health]. Specifically, it suggests that functional mental illness is a characteristic disease of prosperous and secure liberal democracies.

The more a society is dedicated to the value of equality and the more choices it offers for individual self-determination, the higher its rates of functional mental illness. These rates increase in parallel with the increase in the available occupational, geographical, religious, gender and lifestyle-related choices. [emphasis added]

Greenfeld gets right to the punch, adding, “Equality inevitably makes self-definition a matter of one’s own choice, and the formation of personal identity – necessary for mental health – becomes personal responsibility, a burden some people can’t shoulder.” Does this sound like what we are witnessing among young people today? Dr. Greenfeld is certainly onto something big here.

When we leave it to kids to chart their own course in their identity, they increasingly feel adrift and unprotected by those whose responsibility it is to guide them. And those who falsely believe they are helping these students by playing along with the imaginary language must contend with these research findings.

Kaufmann adds,

The progressive account – that LGBT identification is like left-handedness, that persecution explains mental illness, and that rising toleration leads to more people coming out – cannot account for the patterns in my data.

The more so-called “LGBTQ” pride we stoke, the less happy our kids are getting. This is a documented fact. Parents, educational professionals and all those who work with our children are wise to resist the frenzy, and passing more laws to protect their ability to dissent from the ideology is needed.

So-called “gender affirmation” is certainly not the compassionate effort its proponents claim.

Additional Resources

How to Respond to “Trans” and Gender Ideology? Simple: Live Not by Lies

Don’t Be Bullied in the Pronoun War

Part I – Navigating Gender Pronouns at School and Work

Part 2 – Required Personal Pronoun Use at School and Work Leads to Crazy-making, Literally

Part 3 – What to Say When Pressured to Use Gender Pronouns

Part 4 – Is it Ever Right to Use Personal Gender Pronouns?