If I were to create a new product, let’s say an extremely comfortable feeling blanket, but experts told me the material I used was extremely flammable and dangerous - should I test out how safe this product is, should I do no testing at all, or should I put the product out to market and then do testing after selling it?
I think most people would rather this product be tested first, because regardless of how comfortable this blanket feels, you don’t want it burning down your home or hurting your family. I think if this happened to you and you called into the manufacturer of this product who assured you testing was being done about its safety, you’d get rather upset, right? Why was testing not done before? Why was safety not considered before? How could something that felt so right cause so much harm? Well, without testing and expert opinion we can find ourselves in those situations.
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But there are a few ways these conversations can play out. What if you called because you lost a family member to this product and they assured you they thought the product was safe? You would follow up to ask them how they knew that. How would you feel if they said they asked their friends about it and that was it? How would you feel if they said they asked the church about it and the church said God approved this blanket. How about they shared a study with you saying that this material wasn’t flammable at all?
It doesn’t bring your loved one back, and maybe that isn’t a satisfying answer so you look into it. Turns out, shucks, every single other study talks about the material being flammable and dangerous and shouldn’t even be on the market. No matter how comfortable it felt to people, it was dangerous and could hurt you or the people you love. Even though we used it for years and a lot of the times it didn’t end up hurting people that badly, there were times it was lethal. I’m talking hypothetically, but maybe these words make people think about asbestos and maybe we should’ve spent more time looking at the consequence of using asbestos.
House Bill 1298 has passed the House and the Senate, with a study now attached to it. Non-partisan policy experts in education, sports, health care, and law all oppose this legislation because of the dire consequence to our state economically, no evidence for benefit, and direct harm to the queer community. We’re not testing this product out first, we’re putting it on the market with the risk of burning down homes and doing testing later that will provide no peace of mind to the parents who will lose their child to suicide - a very serious, observable and preventable problem in our state for queer youth of which this bill only puts more fuel on the fire. We need to listen to expert consensus and not just what feels comfortable.
Seidler is the LGBTQ+ care coordinator for Canopy Medical Clinic in Fargo and does policy outreach through school systems with the Community Uplift Program.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.