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1. TicToc

What it is: #Tourettes currently has around 8 billion views on TikTok, and researchers, doctors, and psychiatrists are wondering if so-called “Tourette’s influencers” are behind a dramatic rise in certain symptoms of that condition.
Why it’s changing the mental health landscape: The main symptoms of Tourette syndrome include vocal and motor tics, including shrugging, excessive blinking, and humming. Reporting in the Atlantic points out that the way that Tourette syndrome manifests seems to have changed, and symptoms that were once rare (like involuntarily shouting out swear words and repeating certain phrases) are showing up more. This change may coincide with the rise of YouTubers and TikTokers who discuss living with the condition. Some of these influencers have monetized, selling merchandise that references their trademark “tics” and “twitches.” Professionals quoted in this article don’t necessarily think that young people are faking their condition for “clout,” but they do propose that people who might have been “tic prone” before have recently experienced a perfect storm of social isolation, increased screen time, and other stressors over the past two years, and that that has triggered the new wave of diagnoses.

2. You Don’t Say

What it is: The Parental Rights in Education Bill has passed Florida’s state senate and assembly, and now awaits the governor’s signature. The bill limits what primary schools can teach about sexual orientation, and would allow parents to sue educators who engage with students on these subjects.
Why everyone is talking about it: Some supporters of the bill are thrilled at the limitations it places on how educators can talk about LGBTQ+ identities in primary school classrooms. But others are concerned, saying that this legislation will isolate and endanger at-risk youth who need teachers and school settings to be a safe place to discuss their sexuality, even dubbing it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The White House has slammed the bill as hateful, and employees of Disney—a company vital to the Florida economy—have called for the corporation to more vocally oppose it. Ultimately, legal observers anticipate this bill and a recent law passed in Texas that classifies medical gender transition assistance for minors as child abuse will set off a flurry of similar legislation. Bills similar to Florida’s have been spotted in Indiana, Oklahoma, and Kansas, according to ABC News. The language of the bill itself is pretty broad, so reading it before forming an opinion might help cooler heads prevail in discussions of its potential harms and benefits.

3. Left Unread

What it is: Educators are starting to see the fallout from two years of limited in-person schooling and pandemic restrictions. They tell the New York Times they are “alarmed” by the amount of learning loss students show.
Why it’s going to impact teens: Educators say that there was already a literacy crisis before the pandemic, and now they are in “new territory.” The primary grades, when children are learning to read, are where educators in the field have made concerning findings about what kids did and didn’t learn through 2020 and 2021. Children in historically marginalized and lower-income groups have fallen the furthest behind. Teachers who specialize in phonics are in high demand, with not enough available to meet the need. There have been heavy losses in STEM, too. Learning loss for teens might be less apparent, since basic skills like reading are typically intact by the high school years. Back in 2021, students were already saying they felt stressed, isolated, and far behind. As Gen Z and Gen Alpha continue their education, it’s likely that the aftershocks of months spent outside of the classroom will be felt for years to come.

Slang of the Week

Outta pocket: This older slang has been making the rounds and is used to mean “out of line” or “acting inappropriate.” (Ex: “This guy is absolutely outta pocket, cutting me off like that.”)

Translation: You Don’t Say

The most-talked-about section of HB 1557 is in lines 97-101: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” (See responses from both sides here.)

But lines 73-81 are arguably even more significant for parents: “The procedures must reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children by requiring school district personnel to encourage a student to discuss issues relating to his or her well-being with his or her parent or to facilitate discussion of the issue with the parent. The procedures may not prohibit parents from accessing any of their student’s education and health records created, maintained, or used by the school district.” In other words, one of the bill’s goals is to empower parents and give them the primary responsibility for raising their children, specifically around issues related to gender and sexuality—as opposed to giving that responsibility to the state.

There are radicals whose goal of political revolution centers around removing the family’s moral authority. As Wilhelm Reich writes in his book Mass Psychology, “The family is the authoritarian state in miniature, to which the child must learn to adapt himself as a preparation for the general social adjustment required of him later.” In The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman expounds: “While asserting that the patriarchal family is the single most important unit of ideological control for an oppressive and totalitarian regime, Reich also believes that the state must be used to coerce families and, where necessary, actively punish those who dissent from the sexual liberation being proposed.”

Ideas like this matter because the Bible gives parents the responsibility to raise their children (see Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 22:6, and Deuteronomy 6:7). Regardless of how many are actually reading Reich, his ideas are clearly having an influence today, and HB 1557 is designed, in part, to push back against ideas like his. Now, more than ever, we as parents and caring adults have to continue conversations with our kids that will encourage and affirm a healthy, Biblical view of gender and sexuality.

Here are some questions for your reflection as parents and caring adults:

  • Do you know what policies your student’s school has in place regarding informing you about changes in their mental/emotional health?
  • If a bill like this created a vacuum in your student’s sex/gender education, what would you want to see fill that vacuum?