Cartoon: Why We Need Don’t Say Gay Laws

This cartoon was drawn by the wonderful Nadine Scholtes. The unicorns and rainbows were Nadine’s idea, and I love them.

From the Associated Press:

Top officials at a Florida school district ordered the removal of all books and material containing LGBTQ characters and themes from classrooms and campus libraries, saying that was needed to conform to a state law backed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay.”

Charlotte County Schools Superintendent Mark Vianello and the school board’s attorney, Michael McKinley, were responding to questions from the district’s librarians at a July meeting asking whether the bill, officially the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act, required the removal of any books that simply had a gay character but no explicit sex scenes.

(After a lot of outcry, they allowed a handful of books with lgbtq characters into high school libraries.)

PEN America maintains an index of school book bans. They found that, in one year, 1,648 different books were banned. The largest category of banned books – 674 books, or 41 percent – were books that “explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+ (this includes a specific subset of titles for transgender characters or stories—145 titles, or 9 percent).”

As far back as the 1980s, I remember noticing that conservatives treat straightness as incredibly fragile; the slightest little contact with homosexuality, or even the idea of homosexuality, would turn any child queer faster than you could say “Liberace!” Or that’s how they acted, anyway.

In the present day, the idea that queerness is contagious is pushed especially hard by transphobes. Hugh Ryan writes:

Conservatives have been pushing two related theories to explain this uptick. First, there’s the “social contagion” theory, which holds that in a world drowning in representations of heterosexuality and cisgenderness, meeting a single trans person, reading a book with a bisexual character in it, or encountering nonbinary pronouns on TikTok can totally destabilize the identity of an otherwise “normal” child. It’s amazing how fragile heterosexuality and cisness are in this formulation—almost like they’re socially manufactured identities, backed by huge amounts of ideological infrastructure, peer pressure, media recruitment, and social policing. Well, I guess conservatives aren’t wrong about everything.


This cartoon ahs four panels, plus a tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the cartoon.


Two teenagers are standing in a library, and talking directly to the reader. Billy, the boy, is wearing a football uniform and carrying a football. The girl, Sally, is wearing a cheerleader outfit. Billy has his arm around Sally’s shoulders, and Sally is affectionately holding the arm.

BILLY: Hi! I’m Billy Allamerican, and this is my girlfriend Sally.

SALLY: We’re both extremely typical heterosexual high schoolers!


A person wearing a rainbow-colored sweatshirt, matching their rainbox colored hair, and wearing a big peace sign pendant, and a pinback which says “THEY THEM,” comes in, talking to Billy and Sally. They’re holding up a book with a sparkling cover with the title BE GAY. Billy looks surprised, and Sally looks puzzled.

BILLY: Oh look, it’s Ms Woke, our school librarian!

WOKE: Hi, Kids! Have you read this gay book?

SALLY: What’s “Gay”?


This panel has a large caption at the top, which says “LITERALLY ONE DAY LATER” in pink lettering.

The panel shows Billy and Sally, standing out on a field. There are smiling unicorns with rainbow manes and tails rearing up on either side of them, and a rainbow behind them. Everything is sparkling.

Billy is now dressed and posed as a stereotypical flaming gay man, wearing a pink shirt and tan capris. Sally is wearing black boots with big buckles and dark shorts and shirt, and is holding an electric razor and shaving one side of her head. Even though it’s been barely a day and her legs were totally hairless in panel one, we can see hair growing on her legs. 

BILLY: Now that we’re gay, Sally, I’ve quit the football team to become a communist florist!

SALLY: That’s so cool, Billy! I’m going to shave my head and become a witch!

The panel border between panels 3 and 4 is a thought balloon.


The right panel border of panel 3 is a thought balloon border, which leads to the head of the first speaker in panel 4 (indicating that panel 3 was in his imagination). There are two guys here; they’re sitting at a bar, with beers in mugs.

The first man is a gray-haired man with a beard and mustache, wearing a white button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a red necktie. He’s holding up one finger as if he’s making a point. We’ll call him NECKTIE.

The second man is bald and a little chubby, with a beard and mustache, and wearing a red plaid shirt. We’ll call him PLAID.

NECKTIE: And THAT’S why we need “Don’t Say Gay” laws!

PLAID: Makes sense.


Necktie and Sally (with a crew-cut and wearing dark makeup) are talking; Necktie is in a panic, while Sally is cheerful.

NECKTIE: Why would anyone be straight if we let them know there are other options?

SALLY: Exactly!

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3 Responses to Cartoon: Why We Need Don’t Say Gay Laws

  1. 1
    bcb says:

    OMG I love this one!

  2. 2
    Jacqueline Squid Onassis says:

    Twas “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” that turned me. I never would have transitioned had I not seen that movie in 1995. Nope. Never considered transitioning nor questioned my gender for even a second until that movie. Heterosexuality and cisgenderness are just that tenuous.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    BSB: Thank you!

    JSO: All glory to Priscilla!