“They support injecting woke gender ideology into second-grade classrooms,” Governor DeSantis said. “They support enabling schools to ‘transition’ students to a ‘different gender’ without the knowledge of the parent.”
The Parental Rights in Education law states: “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.”
The law also requires, among other protections for parents, “school districts to adopt procedures for notifying parents if there is a change in services from the school regarding a child’s mental, emotional or physical health or well-being.”
Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law was passed against a background of rising attempts by left-wing activists to encourage Florida’s school administrators and educators to introduce sexual orientation and gender identity indoctrination into their classrooms.
Equality Florida, a left-wing activist group, has set out to “shift the culture so that each of Florida’s 67 school districts will adopt comprehensive, nationally recognized best practices for meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ students and in doing so build a model that can be replicated nationwide.” The organization claims that over 30,000 individuals have already been “trained” in almost all of Florida school districts.
Among the “best practices” that Equality Florida recommends is to throw traditional gender classifications that children are accustomed to identifying with at home by the wayside on school grounds.
“Group students in ways that do not rely on gender,” their “Safe School Equality Index” advises. “Avoid situations that force children to make gendered choices, such as ‘boys line up here,’ and ‘girls line up there.’”
Dress code/appearance policies, according to Equity Florida’s Safe School Equality Index, should be gender neutral, “allowing students to wear attire that corresponds with the students’ gender identity or gender expression.” Media specialists in the schools are urged to promote LGBTQ characters and literature for use even with elementary school students. And so on.
The Safe School Equality Index document makes no mention of first notifying parents, much less obtaining their consent, regarding what would be spoon fed even to their elementary school-age children about such sensitive subjects.
Opponents of the Parental Rights in Education law have falsely branded it as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. This mislabeling has spread widely in progressive circles and at sympathetic mainstream media outlets.
The hosts of the Oscar awards ceremonies – Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes – reveled in the “Don’t Say Gay” propaganda campaign aimed at the Florida law when they delivered the following message to Floridians: “And for you people in Florida, we’re going to have a gay night.” Then they chanted the word “gay” over and over again. The Hollywood elites in the auditorium responded with enthusiastic applause.
President Joe Biden added more fuel to the fire after the Oscar telecast. “Our LGBTQI+ youth deserve to be affirmed and accepted just as they are,” the president’s March 28th tweet on the subject stated. “My Administration will continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family — in Florida and around the country.”
In a video message to commemorate Transgender Day of Visibility President Biden said that the “onslaught of anti-transgender state laws attacking you and your families is simply wrong, This administration is standing up for you against all these hateful bills.”
Biden is engaging in crass political shadowboxing that demeans his office.
Nothing in the Florida law attacks LGBTQI+ youth in any way. There is not a word in the legislation that could conceivably be interpreted as anti-gay or anti-transgender by any reasonable person.
Moreover, the law does not ban government funding of schools that include age-appropriate education about sexual orientation or gender identity in their curriculums. That’s a far cry from the bill that Biden voted for as a senator in support of prohibiting “Federal funds for instructional materials, instruction, counseling, or other services on school grounds, from being used for the promotion of homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to answer a reporter’s question asking for an explanation of President Biden’s 180-degree turn. The most obvious reason is that the president is an opportunist catering to his radical base.
Senior Biden administration officials are following suit.
Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, for example, accused Governor DeSantis of targeting “some of Florida’s most vulnerable students and families, all while under the guise of ‘parents’ rights.’” Cardona said that his department will be monitoring the implementation of the law.
“Instead of telling some students or families it’s not okay to be who they are, our Department is fighting for dignity and opportunity for every student and family,” Cardona added.
Cardona either did not read the text of the actual Florida law or is participating in an outrageous misinformation campaign. Nothing in the law tells students or their families that it is not okay to be who they are. The law simply seeks to protect young students from agenda-driven “teaching” by non-family adults that may produce self-doubt in kids at an age when they are most susceptible to questionable external influences.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added her two cents to the made-up controversy created by the progressive Left’s deliberate mischaracterization of the Florida law. She tweeted, “This cruel legislation is an affront to our Nation’s cherished values and sends a harmful message to our children. @GovRonDeSantis and Florida Republicans have chosen to needlessly bully, isolate and demean LGBTQ students.”
Pelosi has it backwards. Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law upholds the core belief of most Americans that families should play the primary role in shaping the emotional development and socialization of their children. The law protects parents from being bullied by overly aggressive teachers and school administrators who want to block the parents from having any real say in their children’s education.
Disney executives joined the opposition bandwagon after buckling to progressives’ pressure. The Magic “Woke” Kingdom issued a statement denouncing the law and calling for it to be “repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts.”
Disney’s stance against what it mislabeled the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill reeks of hypocrisy. Disney does business in China, for example, even though the Chinese Communist regime tortures and forcibly detains Uyghurs. Disney has even filmed in areas around where the Chinese government’s concentration camps are located. Gay and transgender people have been censored, mocked, and marginalized since China’s President Xi Jinping assumed power in 2012. But Disney executives keep their mouths shut and submit their films to Chinese government censorship as they rake in profits from their China operations.
Disney’s streaming service Disney+ has announced the launching of its service in 42 countries this year, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia on June 8th. Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia have outlawed same-sex relationships and have even made them punishable by the death penalty. Gays and transgender people do not fare well in other Middle East markets outside of Israel that Disney+ is also targeting for expansion.
Governor DeSantis pointed to Disney’s hypocrisy in “lining their pockets” from “Disney cruises to the nation of Dominica, which criminalizes homosexuality.”
Disney’s interference in a matter duly decided by Florida’s elected representatives has angered some Florida legislators and the governor to the point that they are considering stripping Disney of its special status as a self-governing entity.
Social justice warrior activists, including Equality Florida, have joined in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law. Their complaint alleges that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by discriminatorily censoring classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida’s public schools.
Roberta Kaplan, the founding partner of the New York-based law firm that filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee, claimed that it is “hard to imagine anything more offensive to our constitutional system than treating one group of school kids as second class based solely on who they are or who their parents are.”
Ms. Kaplan was once the chairwoman of Time’s Up, an organization established to fight sexual abuse and promote gender equality, and she is the co-founder of its legal defense fund. Ironically, this same New York lawyer who filed the lawsuit in Florida challenging the Parental Rights in Education law resigned months earlier from Time’s Up as the sexual harassment scandal engulfing former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unraveled. It seems that Ms. Kaplan had participated in an effort to discredit one of Cuomo’s female accusers.
Evidently, Ms. Kaplan is trying to make a comeback with the bogus Florida lawsuit.
The complaint is based on the false premise that public school administrators and educators should have a superior right to act in the parents’ stead when it comes to looking after the health, socialization, and moral upbringing of the parents’ children.
The Supreme Court has concluded in a line of cases stretching back nearly a century that the “liberty” specially protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment includes the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
“The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations,” the Supreme Court declared in one of its earliest opinions on the subject.
In a case decided in 2000, the Supreme Court majority reaffirmed that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children…is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.”
Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law vindicates this fundamental constitutional right of parents to remain in charge of their own children’s upbringing, including their education in such emotionally sensitive subjects as sexual orientation and gender identity.
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