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It's Friday, April 22 2022. I'm Joshua Claycamp. And this is the Observer, a reflection upon the news from a biblical perspective, in order to help Christians understand how we need to think and feel about current events.
Well, yesterday the Walt Disney Company learned that it needed Florida more than Florida needed the Walt Disney Company. The Florida legislature voted this week to abolish the Reedy Creek Improvement District, which in effect let's Disney world run its own private government. Created by the Florida Legislature in 1967. The district covers about 40 square miles and features two water parks and four theme parks including the Magic Kingdom. Disney essentially controls land use environmental protection, Fire Service utilities, more than 100 miles of roads and so much more than this. Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill this week. The journal cites a source who knows Disney's finances and says the district saves the company 10s of millions of dollars a year and without it, services like fixing potholes could revert to county government. And of course, along with those services and along with the debts which are currently held by the Walt Disney Corporation, all reverting back to the county. Of course, the income of Walt Disney will also be taxable not only by the Florida county than which in which they reside, but as well by the state of Florida. Disney largely funds the Reedy Creek district which had about $150 million in revenue just last year. Of course, it also carries close to $1 billion dollars in debt.
The mayor of Orange County warned Thursday that if the district goes then upkeep of the roads and all the various infrastructure that support Disney will fall to the county's budgets putting an undue burden on the rest of the taxpayers. The headaches look large enough that it's difficult not to wonder about the bill's effective date. It dissolves the Reedy Creek district effectively on June 1 2023. Time for Disney and Mr. DeSantis to engage in a little bit back and forth and see if some other compromise might be worked out. Until that compromise arrives though there is a hard expiration date and it's approaching not anytime this year. But next year.
Are Florida Republicans though engaged in unfair political retaliation by doing this to Disney. Mr. DeSantis, the governor of Florida said last month quote, as a matter of first principle I don't support special privileges in law, just because a company is powerful and quote. Well from this we learn that if a company lives by the corporate carve out that same company will die by the corporate carve out as a matter of political realism. The Reedy Creek district is a perk that st government gave to Disney back in 1967. And the mystery is why Disney thought it could push around state lawmakers without any pushback, especially pushback in the form of eliminating their special tax exempt district. One answer of course, is that the previous corporate political signaling came with little cost and a truckload of media praise.
You'll recall when Major League Baseball pulled its all star game out of Atlanta as a punishment for Georgia's new voting law. At the time, the Commissioner of baseball Rob Manfred said quote, fair access to voting continues to have our games unwavering support and quote, it was not widely noted that the voting law passed and Georgia does not do much to improve voting or to hurt voting. In fact, voting in Georgia is still far easier and far more accessible than in New York or Delaware to prominently Democrat states.
The political frenzy in Florida however, began with a very similar dynamic, early versions of the states controversial, quote, unquote, don't say gay bill were rather broader, but they over time through the political process were narrowed. Here's the key line in the law that passed which drew so much which drew so much of the ire of political opposition, quote, classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade three, or in a manner that is not age appropriate. And quote.
Just yesterday, a spokesperson for the American White House said that the bill was just flat out wrong, but any honest reading of the bill belies all of the insults and all of the denunciations that are thrown against it by the opposition. The simple fact is the language makes it clear that kids with gay siblings or two moms or two dads for that matter are able and continue to be able to talk openly about their families. What this bill is really all about is halting instruction that is influence and encouragement that might be extended by the teacher in order to persuade students as young as kindergarten to grade three, to begin actively considering whether or not they ought to be transgender or whether or not they should be experimenting in sex and of a sexual nature that is homosexual or LGBTQ.
At first, the Disney CEO Bob J. Peck told employees that Disney simply would not take any position on this bill. Quote, As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds he wrote. Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other in order to further divide and inflame. However, inspired by an earlier tweet from former CEO Bob Iger, Disney employees went into open rebellion against the current and sitting CEO Bob J. Peck. Indeed, Mr. J. Peck soon was groveling to his underlings and calling Florida's bill a, quote, challenge to basic human rights and quote, now it might have been that his thinking was, this would all just sort of be a way for him to mollify his staff. But Mr. J. Peck misjudged the political moment. Republican voters who have watched companies side with the progressive agenda and silence employees who disagree with that progressive agenda, were quite simply fed up. Mr. J. Peck was right the first time Disney's foray into the political arena and specifically into this aspect of the culture wars, simply did not stop the Florida law. But it made a lot of people mad, including Disney customers, including Disney employees, and most significantly for Disney, it included state lawmakers.
There's a warning here to other companies, especially big tech and Wall Street, which are mainly based in liberal states but conduct business everywhere. If they tried to impose their central their cultural values. They risk losing Republican allies on the policy issues that matter most to their bottom lines, such as regulation, trade, taxation, anti trust and labor laws. Polls show rising GOP hostility to big business, and this is likely to be reflected when Republicans take power and are elected into office. As a Christian, though, as we look at this particular law, how should we think about it? There has been criticism from some that this is political retribution, that politicians are stepping over the line in order to attack corporations that are simply trying to conduct an honest business. That in itself is a question we need to ask, is this an honest business? Of course, 50-60 years ago, there would be no question about corporations and companies wading into certain cultural discussions or getting heavily involved in politics for that matter. Because the simple matter was they wanted to conduct business, they had a product or a good or a service that they were trying to sell. And as far as they were concerned, it was about providing an income, earning a living and providing for their employees. So they're trying to sell that product that good and that service, and they're recognizing at least 50 to 60 years ago, that their customers are going to be on either side of the political aisle, and they're trying to serve everyone equally. And that time and in that era, politics did not pervade the culture to the extent that we are seeing today.
However, that was then and this is now. in today's cultural market companies need to be seen by their customers as taking a position on these cultural issues. They want to be on the right side of history, as the saying goes, they want to be perceived and seen as supporting the advancement, the progress of human rights, the flourishing of human civilization is understood to be taking place within the liberation of these sexual values within the promotion and the advancement of the LGBTQ agenda.
Here's where Christians need to step back and ask that question for themselves is society and culture ated? Does culture flourish? Are we making progress by by encouraging supporting and promoting these ideas? Perhaps to put it a little bit more on the point? Are we right to be promoting these ideas to individuals as young as kindergarten? This is a question that we faced in British Columbia back in 2017. At that time, the Liberal government under the leadership of Premier Christy Clark sought to implement legislation that would encourage and promote the teaching of LGBTQ and transgenderism. Through a new curriculum at that time, which has since been implemented. That is known as Soji 123. So G standing for sexual orientation, and gender identity. At that time as we were evaluating these questions, we came across a number of research studies that demonstrated that the teaching of transgenderism to students particularly young students from kindergarten to grade five resulted in early onset sexual behavior, and increased sexual experimentation with numerous sexual partners, drug use, and criminality, both major and petty crimes ranging from theft all the way up to murder.
This was supported by research conducted by Garoppolo out of Princeton, simply stated, teaching transgenderism resulted in teen pregnancy. The teaching of transgenderism resulted in childhood sexual trauma, which resulted in a future depression, and an inability for those students who were subjected at such an early age, to have healthy relationships within their adult family and amongst their adult peers at the time that they attained to the age of majority. In fact, the teaching of transgenderism to young children kindergarten to grade five resulted in children being 23 times more likely to commit suicide. And one thing that was apparently clear in the wake of every study that's ever been conducted on this sort of thing is that the teaching of transgenderism, or the teaching of LGBTQ values to young students inevitably resulted in gender dysphoria prior to the teaching of LGBTQ prior to the implementation of so implementation of Soji 123. Gender Dysphoria was simply not found to be a pervasive lifelong problem with 83% of transgender children, apparently reverting back to normal heterosexual behavior following puberty. But with the teaching of Soji 123.
And with the encouragement of transgenderism, there was a noticeable uptick in the number of individuals claiming to be transgender. The research clearly indicates that teaching transgenderism and same sex attraction to young children is psychologically damaging to the child. And that over time, it can lead to a ridiculously high increase in suicidal tendencies, and and all of this there are just a couple of data points that we need to remember from the research. Gender dysphoria in particular, which is the result of treat of teaching transgenderism. often results in drug abuse and drug abuse often results in criminality. Gender Dysphoria further leads to feelings of loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and depression. And gender dysphoria leads to a sharp increase in teen suicide and early adult suicide within the LGBT community. In fact, there was and continues to be an increasingly vocal call from those who are lesbian, gay or bisexual to separate from the T or the transgender group because of how dangerous it is.
Indeed, one of the members of the transgender community in California said at that time that teaching transgenderism to young children ages five to 12 wasn't merely harmful, but that it should be actively opposed because, quote, you will kill more children than you will you will help his exact word the exact quote you will kill more children than you will help he used the word kill.
Perhaps most compelling is the account of John Hopkins Hospital, which was not only one of the first hospitals in the United States to perform sex reassignment surgery in the mid 1970s, but also happened to be the first hospital to ban the procedure in the late 1990s. The reasons given by the hospital were simple sex reassignment surgery leads to 68% of transgender patients, either committing suicide or requiring significant antidepressants for the duration of their adult life following their sex reassignment surgery, and 98% of all sex reassignment patients admitted to entertaining thoughts of suicide, and 89% stated that they have recurring suicidal ideation.
All of this leads to the question, why do this liberal government under the leadership of at that time Premier Christy Clark and continued under the current government, the NDP government, why continue to encourage the teaching of transgenderism in public schools? Why would the Ministry of Education seek to introduce this material to our children? Well, this move was at that time and continues today to be pushed by a number of sex acts activists and sex activist organizations. And the reason is because they believe that the problem of mental health for individuals within the LGBTQ community is due to social stigmatization. In other words, they argue that the reason why so many feel depressed or entertain thoughts of suicide or attempt suicide is the result of social stigmatization, that is, other individuals look down upon them, or think negatively of them as a result of their gender dysphoria or their decision to engage in sex reassignment surgery. The hypothesis is that the mental health of all LGBT individuals can be improved if the social stigma of being gay or being transgender can simply be eliminated.
So the idea is we're going to encourage this in the public education system, we're going to start to encourage this, and students as young as kindergarten, in the hopes that as they grow up, having been exposed to it, having become more familiar with it, it will not result in a stigma in society at large. However, I don't think this hypothesis matches the data. I didn't think it then.
And I certainly don't think it now, several studies indicate a very different outcome results from efforts to D stigmatize homosexuality. In Sam in the San Francisco Health Survey that was committed. Back in 1998, suicide attempt rates of LGBTQ middle school students were 33% Compared to 6% of heterosexual students. When we compare this against the national average for the United States, what we find is that the national average of students in every community across the United States was 0.73%, or in other words, a little less than 1%. In other words, in rural traditional values, small town America, roughly one actually a little less than one in 100 students attempted to commit suicide for any given reason. However, in a pro LGBTQ gay rights Friendly Community School Public School community where transgenderism was actively encouraged and actively taught, such as in the San Francisco high schools, eight out of 100 Heterosexual students attempted suicide, and 33 out of 100 LGBTQ students attempted suicide. So what we saw in the wake of that study, and what we continue to see today is a radical jump in suicide attempts by individuals within communities that celebrate and encourage LGBTQ values, even among those that continue to identify today as heterosexual. So this really begs the question, of course, what is causing the mental health disorders among LGBTQ individuals, if we're seeing severe depression, and suicide attempts in communities, where social stigmatization is simply not the issue?
And why is it that efforts to de stigmatize homosexuality actually result in greater instances, not fewer instances, but greater instances of depression, and suicide even among heterosexual students where there's no stigma associated? All of this leads to us answering the question, it is apparently obvious, and encouraging individuals to pursue a sexuality that is a violation of the way that God made them. They are not arriving at this point. Napoli this, this paradise of liberation and happiness and blessedness. And pursuing these sexual behaviors in violation of a biblical sexual ethic, which encourages heterosexual activity within the bonds of marriage between one man and one wife. When we see these behaviors encouraged out of that bond outside of that relationship, we see depression, we see heart ache, we see sorrow, we see sadness, and all of this is, of course, the result of encouraging individuals to find their happiness in a behavior which God has said explicitly, will not bring about happiness, and does not meet with his blessing.
And of course, the San Francisco Health Survey isn't the only one we could quote. We are also familiar with the Dutch paradox. Sanjay Agarwal, in a study known as the Dutch paradox makes this statement quote, despite the Netherlands reputation as a world leader with respect to gay rights, homosexual Dutch men have much higher right, much higher rates of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts than heterosexual Dutchman epidemiologists. courts similar disparities elsewhere in Western Europe and North America. In the Netherlands, considered the world over as the model for gay equality, how are we to understand the high rates of psychiatric disorders among gay men, gay men, that's from Sanjay Agarwal, looking at the the health considerations that are occurring in the Netherlands, which is a leader internationally in terms of promoting and D stigmatizing LGBTQ identity. The conclusion from all of this is that simply removing social stigma does not improve the mental health of individuals within the LGBT community. The assertion that D stigmatizing LGBTQ identity will result in better mental health outcomes simply does not match the facts, it does not line up with the data.
Indeed, I believe that there are deeper underlying spiritual concerns that are being reflected in these unusually high rates of suicide and depression within this demographic. And so with all of this, as Christians, we need to recognize that the reason that removing the stigma will not ultimately solve the longing of the LGBTQ soul is because the only thing that can really that can resolve the longing that LGBTQ individuals feel, is having a relationship with God. Knowing Jesus Christ is the only way that any man or woman created in the image of God can ever experience lasting happiness, satisfaction, and joy. Everything else results in frustration, disappointment and despair. And that is the real reason why this push to indoctrinate children and transgender ideology will not succeed. And it will inevitably lead the LGBTQ coalition to push for some further form of destructive teaching, as they seek to satisfy themselves and behaviors that only bring about more sorrow and more heartache. Of course, the Bible tells us that we are created in the image of God, and our gender is a part of the image given to us by our Heavenly Father. Our gender isn't fluid, but rather fixed by our Heavenly Father, as a part of the essence of who we are.
The Bible says in Genesis 127, to 28, God created man in His own image, in the image of God, He created him, male and female, He created them and God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And so it is that as a man or as a woman, as God has created you, you will know the blessing of how God intends for you to know the blessing of being a man and being a woman as he has created you that way.
So as we look at all of these things, we recognize that these issues continue to fester here at home. Indeed, an article recently out of BC reminds us that the battle over Soji 123 continues. In Vancouver, we learned that two special advisers were recently appointed by the British Columbia government to evaluate the Chilliwack Board of Education is commitment to safety and inclusion in schools. Although that is a rather broad statement. The target really of their investigation is Chilliwack. school trustee Barry Neufeld. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said in a news release that retired BC Supreme Court Judge Lynn Smith and former former Surrey school superintendent Mike McKay will complete their review by the end of February. The review has apparently been pleaded, although we still await its delivery the province said the special advisers will determine if the actions of Chilliwack school trustees are consistent with the human rights of students and staff at schools in the district. It said they will review the board's ability to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive school community for everyone, regardless of their background, ability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. And of course, this is about none of those things. It is really about Barry Neufeld not signing off on the dotted line.
In fact, asked for a comment on the reason for the review. The education ministry sent an email statement from Whiteside that said quote Newbury Newfields, quote, reprehensible comments have made it clear that he should not hold the role of school trustee and he should not be in a school setting and quote, with Mr. Neufeld still sitting on the board and espousing his hateful views, students and staff are not able to learn in a safe and inclusive educational system. And that is unacceptable this Even red asked about Whiteside statement when reached by phone Neufeld replied simply that's her opinion. And of course, in all of this, it is apparent that they are on a quest to remove Barry Neufeld. Not because he is violent, not because he presents a legitimate risk to anyone's safety simply because after having been on the Board of Trustees for as long as he has, he criticized the Soji 123 curriculum. Early on, he criticized it repeatedly. And he went he's gone on to recruit to criticize it since then. In fact, Barry Neufeld made the statement quote, the media has exaggerated it to make it look out that I am a homophobe. And that is simply not true. He goes on to say after working with special needs kids for over 25 years, I don't think I'm a threat to any student. Neufeld is simply not happy with the Soji 123 curriculum because he considers it to be a danger. As Christians, we need to continue to pray for our elected government leaders. We need to lift up the NDP government under the leadership of Premier John Horgan and we need to be able to speak boldly and forthrightly about the teaching of transgenderism and LGBTQ in our schools. And if you're a Christian parent, and you're wondering about where to send your student next year, I strongly urge you, for the sake of your child and for the glory of God. Do not send your child to a public educational institution where they are going to be encouraged to experiment with ideologies and sexual ethics that will ultimately lead them to a life of depression, and most damagingly of all will lead them to compromise in their faith and perhaps in their walk to such an extent that they are outside of God's blessing without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Thanks for listening to the observer. I'm Joshua Claycamp. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/joshua Claycamp. The observer is a ministry of First Baptist Church where Christians seek to discern the news differently. For more information on First Baptist Church of Kamloops just go to first Baptist Kamloops dot o RG or for more information on first Baptist classical Academy, a private school where students are educated according to a Christian worldview. Just go to first Baptist classical dot o RG and I'll see you again on Monday for more of the observer.