We’ve spent most of the last two weeks focused on Russia, but the controversy in Florida is worth considering.
In their quest to become the party of “parental rights,” Republicans in Florida and in other states are attempting to muzzle discussion of gay and civil rights in school.
Opponents say it is cruel
The proposal that has been dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill has become the subject of an intense opposition campaign.
The White House has called it cruel.
“It is certainly something that is not helping, you know, young people who are members of the LGBTQI+ community who are already vulnerable, already being bullied,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said when asked about the Florida legislation in February.
Don’t say ‘Don’t Say Gay’ to DeSantis
DeSantis grew agitated Monday at the Florida Strawberry Festival when a reporter asked him about the phrase — “Don’t Say Gay” — that critics have applied to the bill.
What does it say?
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.
Here’s what supporters think it says
If that language seems vague, it is. But vague legislation can have massive consequences. The threat of lawsuits brought against school boards would certainly have a chilling effect on teachers and what they say in classrooms.
Activists on the left and right have filled in the blanks, with some making the case the bill discriminates against LGBT people.
Supporters of the bill say it’s innocuous, but they don’t think the bill is meaningless.
“If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”
It’s an old, tired and ridiculous argument that has been used to smear members of the LGBT community in previous debates over issues like same-sex marriage.
At the news conference where he challenged the reporter, DeSantis said the bill was about protecting kids.
“We’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum,” he said.
These fears are unfounded
“There’s a fantasy going on that children are being indoctrinated,” Butler told CNN. “Parents and communities want to exercise forms of censorship to stop their children from knowing about how the world is being organized and how different people are living their lives.”
150+ anti-LGBT proposals
- A Georgia bill similar to Florida’s bill restricting discussion of LGBT topics.
- An Idaho bill that could punish medical personnel who provide gender-affirming health care and parents who agree for their children to receive such care with up to life in prison.
- A new executive order issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to launch child abuse investigations into parents seeking gender-affirming medical treatment for trans children.
- An Iowa ban on transgender women and girls taking part in girls’ sports at public schools.
- A Tennessee ban on any discussion, textbook or instructional materials on “LGBT issues or lifestyle” in public schools.
- An Oklahoma proposal to ban some public school libraries from keeping books about “the study of sex, sexual preferences, sexual activity, sexual perversion, sex-based classifications, sexual identity, or gender identity or books that are of a sexual nature that a reasonable parent or legal guardian would want to know of or approve of prior to their child being exposed to it.”
All these proposals make it harder for certain Americans to be who they are, which is counter to the idea of parental rights or individual freedoms.