David Dunn-Rankin

David Dunn-Rankin


Love her long pink hair, pulled up off the shoulder. Love the multi-color top, the jeans short shorts. The mid-size black boots with large rectangle heels. The nose ring.

Someone comfortable enough with their fellow employees to dress a little on the wild side at the company get-together.

One of my favorite employees at a computer software company I own part of.

She is wicked smart. When she talks in a meeting, everyone stops talking and listens. They like and respect her. She is regularly given some of the company’s most challenging computer software programming challenges to tackle.

Plus, our customers love her. They wouldn’t trade her in a million years. I can’t think of the last time she lost a customer she handled.

The total package. We are so lucky to have her. If we had 10 more just like her, our company would be unstoppable.

I thought about that as we stood next to each other in the men’s room, both standing up, using the urinal at the same time.

Did I forget to mention that she is undergoing a physical transformation from a man into a woman?

Many of us can’t pretend to fully understand or say we are comfortable with the whole idea. I can’t pretend to say that I always get the gender right in our conversations — this person who physically started out as a man when she first came to work with us.

What I can say is, we are all called to love our neighbor as ourselves. To do unto others as we would have them do unto us. We should not judge each other by the color of our skin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity — as hard as that sometimes might be.

Loving your neighbor as yourself is why I am so distraught with Gov. Ron DeSantis, the man who would be president, who is choosing to create a circus environment around transgender and gay people. This most recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill is just one example of the three-ring circus Gov. DeSantis has created with transgender and gay people being the objects for his audience to laugh at.

I’m not in favor of heavy sex education of any type before fourth grade. But that choice of no sex education in public schools before fourth grade was voted down by Republicans in Tallahassee. Instead, the Republicans singled out gay and transexual people. Don’t Say Gay accurately describes the bill.

I understand that parents want a head start on the “sex” discussion with their kids. That’s fair. But let’s not forget what it is like to be young children with questions. By age 8 or 9, third grade, some girls are already beginning to enter puberty.

What is not discussed in the classroom is discussed on the playground or now over the internet. There is no way to turn off the flow of information to our young children.

Should sex and sexual orientation be learned in an age-appropriate classroom with state oversight or should sex and sexual orientation be learned from the internet, or an older child, or if we are lucky — from parents? At what age, if ever, should we allow sex and sexual orientation discussions in a classroom?

The Republicans did not answer these important questions on when and how we discuss sexual orientation. They instead singled out a different and marginalized class of people. We need a thoughtful plan for our schools and our children, not a message of hate and fear.

My employee is a person just like you and me. With hopes and dreams just like you and me. She is just different than most of us. How do you believe you are called to respond to those who are different?

All school bullies and tyrants know this eternal truth: If you can help your people hate a different, weak, marginalized class of people, your tribe will love you even more.

Gov. DeSantis, the man who wants to be president, is choosing the path of the bully. Some people will love him even more for it.

What do you think?

Share your thoughts.

David Dunn-Rankin is CEO of D-R Media, which owns the Triangle News-Leader, as well as newspapers in Highlands, Lake, and Polk counties. He can be reached at David@D-R.Media .

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