The mainstream media has parroted a Democrat talking-point in labeling a Florida parental rights law a “don’t say gay” prohibition in the classroom.
Florida House Bill 1557, the Parental Rights in Education Act was passed in the state house in February and the state Senate in early March, and was set to be signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. The move garnered numerous protests, including condemnation by the Disney corporation and the Disney-owned ESPN observing a minute of silence during its broadcast of a women’s basketball game on March 18. “Normally at this time we would take a look back at the first half,” Courtney Lyle said while introducing the second half. “But there are things bigger than basketball that need to be addressed at this time.” Lyle’s broadcast partner Carolyn Peck then introduced a moment of silence: “A threat to any human rights is a threat to all human rights.”
Democratic opponents of the bill labeled Bill 1557 a “don’t say gay” bill and the journalistic and entertainment dutifully adopted the framing.
The moment of silence contrasted with the noisy opposition in most of the media and from pro-LGBTQ celebrities and politicians.
Numerous celebrities posted social media posts of them simply saying the word “gay” repeatedly, most notably straight actors Mark Hamill and Mark Ruffalo. Democratic politicians both in Florida and around the nation did the same. After Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon told viewers “if you can’t say it, you might as well sing it,” dozens of Broadway stars and musical artists posted social media posts of themselves singing gay in various styles.
Time ran a headline on the news story, “Florida passed the Don’t Say Gay bill — here’s what it means.” ABC News went with “DeSantis-backed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill sparks outrage” and NBC News had “Florida House passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.” CBS News headlined their coverage, “Florida House passes controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.” National Public Radio headlined their coverage, “‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes in the Florida House” and a few days later, the BBC ran “‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes Florida Senate.” In Canada, the Toronto Star ran the headline “‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes” and CBC had “Florida legislature passes ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill to restrict LGBTQ topics in elementary schools.”
National Review’s David Harsanyi “If Republicans had decided to call the Democrats’ recent abortion bill … the ‘Let’s Kill Babies’ bill (though pretty accurate, actually), no major news agency would have allowed those words to creep into their reporting, much less used it in a headline.” Writing in Spiked Online, Wilfrid Reilly said the reaction to the law demonstrated that “to a rather remarkable degree, centre-left mainstream media outlets in the U.S. and Europe, often act as virtual stenographers for left-bloc political parties.”
The New York Times published a column by a self-identified LGBT adolescent, Will Larkins, “Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay” bill will hurt me.” Larkin claimed that after he was bullied at a party off-campus, the teacher who consoled him at school could have been disciplined had the Florida law been in effect at the time. Yahoo! reported: “The law, as written, could preclude teachers from acknowledging historical figures or even parents who happen to be LGBTQ+.”
Reilly said “this narrative” is “totally false” as “obviously (the law) does not prevent teachers from mentioning the word ‘gay’ or even from giving high-school kids advice on bullying or relationships.” The bill, wrote Reilly, “actually has nothing to do with LGBT issues at all: it is a fairly standard-looking piece of legislation focused on parental-notification procedures and parental access to school records.” A single section notes: “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.” Harsanyi said, “That’s a lot different from what ‘Don’t Say Gay’ implies.”
Children in Grade 3 are generally 7-8 years old. Instruction, Reilly notes, refers to “organized lessons” as “opposed to general moral advice.” DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw has called the law an “Anti-Grooming Bill” to protect impressionable children, indicating the Governor was likely to sign the bill.
Michael Brown wrote in the Christian Post that “In order to oppose” the bill, “the critics must grossly misrepresent it” and that doing so “is a common tactic when it comes to LGBT activism.” Reilly noted that a poll showed 49 per cent of Floridians oppose the law while it is supported by 40 per cent, but he argued that if the bill had been presented fairly to the public, it seems likely that a majority of respondents would support protecting the innocence of younger children from inappropriate class lessons on matters of sexuality.
The law also allows parents and teachers to sue any school district that violates the law.
The Hill reports that 15 other states including Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, are also considering similar laws.
I usually comment in this space about items I’ve read in other publications but I want to highlight a point made in this issue by Donald DeMarco. U.S. President Joe Biden’s International Women’s Day remarks included the assertion that abortion-on-demand is necessary for women to achieve “their God-given potential.” Professor DeMarco wryly observes the inclusion of a reference to God is curious considering that President Biden has repeatedly refused to answer the question, “when does life begin?” by stating that he did not want to go into that “theological’ issue.” Of course, when life begins is a biological fact, and thus a scientific issue not a theological one. The theological and philosophical question is the value of life at its various stages, and the theological answer that the President’s professed faith provides is unerringly that all human life from the moment of conception to natural death deserves protection because we are made in the image of God. Some Christians, including Biden, have veered from this Scripturally based understanding of the unique dignity of human life. The philosophical point about the relative value of human life at various points of development, from embryonic through fetal, to newborn, infant, and toddler, through childhood and adolescence, to young adulthood, middle age, and finally senior-age, may be informed by theological considerations but even if it is not, many people understand that all our fellow human beings, regardless of age or stage of development, deserve legal protection and that it is wrong to kill them. But the scientific facts are undeniable. The fusion of an egg and sperm results in a new human being with a unique set of DNA. It is odd that many people who have made a mantra of “follow the science” utterly refuse to do so when it comes to abortion. President Biden pretends that it is a theological issue, but one presumes he knows better. And one can understand why he chooses to (not) answer the question this way: things get a little ugly for people who admit that they are for killing human beings; it is better to avoid the topic altogether. The regular questions about when life begins come from EWTN’s reporters covering the White House, and the President and his spokesman, Jen Psaki, have dismissed the specific question of “when does life begin” by reiterating the White House’s support for abortion-on-demand and dismissing the inquiry as a mere theological question. If this President and his senior staff were capable of embarrassment, they would blush when they answer the question as fallaciously as they do.
Of course, DeMarco’s commentary juxtaposes Biden’s usual dismissal of questions about when life begins as a theological question with the President’s remark that women can only achieve the “God-given potential” by snuffing out the gift of life they are carrying, a particularly cynical and crude understanding of women’s self-actualization. Taken to its logical conclusion, God wants them to kill their preborn children in order to become the best versions of themselves. The President is no theologian, but it shouldn’t take one to understand that there is simply no basis in God’s love for such a brutal and inhumane view of womanhood.
The International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) is raising money to provide “essential items to people fleeing Ukraine.” Their appeal, featured prominently on their website, states “during humanitarian crises, sexual and reproductive healthcare is often overlooked – but the reality is that daily sexual and reproductive healthcare needs remains (sic) an urgent priority.” The appeal states that the IPPF’s European Network provides menstrual hygiene kits, blankets, clothes, newborn kits, and diapers, which sounds all well and good. But it also states that IPPF partners with groups in eastern Europe to provide “sexual and reproductive services,” which we know means abortion, contraception, and sterilization, none of which are “essential” but are the bread-and-butter of Planned Parenthood. Women and their preborn babies fleeing the war-torn Ukraine should not have their tragic circumstances multiplied by the serpentine assistance of these abortion-peddlers.