Samuel Fernandez: There is nothing new in Mike Lee’s letter attacking LGBTQ people

Utah senator has a history of discriminating against marginalized groups.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sen. Mike Lee at the ribbon cutting ceremony for Thermo Fisher Scientific's Ogden facility on Wednesday, April 20, 2022.

This week, Sen. Mike Lee, along with four other U.S. senators, wrote a letter attacking LGBTQ+ representation in the media.

Hidden behind the guise of “parental rights,” what this letter really wants to say is “people who are different from me make me uncomfortable.”

Should this come as a surprise? Absolutely not. After all, Lee has a history of discriminating against marginalized groups. Lee is responsible for blocking the creation of Smithsonian Institution museums dedicated to Latinos and women. Lee was the only senator who voted against speeding up disability benefits for people suffering from ALS.

Now he wants to attack the LGBTQ+ community by labeling its very existence and presence in media as being inherently “sexual,” which is a slanderous and ignorant claim. Apparently being inclusive is just too much for Lee to handle.

What makes this letter so offensive is the idea that watching people of a different sexual orientation on TV will lead to children having “gender dysphoria” which is to have a “strong desire to be of another gender,” when there is no concrete evidence that suggests this to be true.

The letter also quotes some recent comments made by an executive at Disney and tries to make it seem like they just uncovered a huge conspiracy theory where the LGBTQ+ community is trying to take over the world by spreading their agenda. When all that the Disney executive said was that she supports having “many, many, many LGBTQIA+ characters” in new Disney stories, or in other words, more inclusivity. Wow! This is so scary. If you’re Mike Lee.

Lee is trying to push a narrative that suggests that inclusivity is a bad thing being forced onto people. However, there are countless studies that show that inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, schools and other areas of life are beneficial for everyone involved. Inclusivity leads us to be more loving, kind and tolerant to all walks of life.

Lee has stated that he wanted to work against dividing the country – yet his actions, such as voting against the Latino and Women Smithsonian museums, reflect the complete opposite and show his transparent hypocrisy.

Sexual orientation is not something that the government and Mike Lee should try to control or regulate. To assume that he can is harmful to many LGBTQ+ youth living in Utah, who already must justify their existence while living in a religious and conservative state.

Lee seems to not care about the fact that LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth, which would explain the carelessness in the letter to the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board. In Utah, there have been suicide prevention plans created specifically for LGBTQ+ teens, who have a much higher rate of attempted suicide due to feeling unaccepted. Lee is therefore complicit in deepening the wounds of the LGBTQ+ youth in Utah.

Mike Lee believes that children learning about different orientations is a bad thing — but he also compared Donald Trump, who has been recorded admitting to nonconsensual grabbing of women by their privates, to religious figures, so it’s safe to say his opinions shouldn’t mean much. His rhetoric is not only incorrect but incredibly non-inclusive and ignorant. His letter is an attack on the LGBTQ+ community as a whole and honestly feels like something straight out of shows like “Veep” or “Parks and Recreation.”

This upcoming election, let us seek to vote out Mike Lee so that we can begin to build a more tolerant state and so that he can no longer use his position of power to discriminate against marginalized groups in Utah.

Samuel Fernandez is an intern for the Democratic Party of Utah. He is a student at Brigham Young University majoring in political science.