In the era of Google, it’s usually easy to find what journalists call the “source document.” Whether it’s the exact working of a law or a Supreme Court decision or even a classic TV jingle (“Plop Plop Fizz Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is”), it’s all at your online fingertips.
Strangely, I had the hardest time finding the precise text of what the left-leaning media have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. You would think that it would be simple to locate that phrase in the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. While plenty of media headlines popped up in my Google search, the law itself did not.
Because, despite the media coverage, it’s not there.
The closest I got to a media outlet reporting that fact was, surprisingly enough, NPR. It opted for “Florida lawmakers pass controversial so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.” The subtle insertion of “so-called” left open the possibility that the law does not ban the word “gay” in the great state of Florida. (As an aside, that’s great news for Snow White and the Dwarves, who live in a condo in Orlando.)
So forget the headlines. Here are the facts: The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is actually the “Parental Rights In Education” Act. Here is some of the actual text, which I was finally able to find by going directly to the state’s legislative website. (Note to self: Don’t be lazy. Stop Googling and go to the source).
“Parental Rights In Education … prohibits school district personnel from discouraging parental notification or involvement in critical decisions affecting students’ mental, emotional or physical well-being; prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels; requires school districts to notify parents of healthcare services; authorizes parents to bring action against school districts to obtain declaratory judgments; provides for additional award of injunctive relief, damages, and reasonable attorney fees and court costs to certain parents.”
Nowhere in the new law does it say the word “gay” cannot be mentioned. Critics point to the part of the law that says sexual orientation or gender identity cannot be taught in certain grade levels. Which grade levels? Kindergarten through third grade. That’s usually the 4- to 8-year-old range. Please tell me what 4-year-old needs to know about sexual orientation? Please enlighten me as to what 8-year-old needs to know about gender identity?
Is there a reason we can’t simply teach kids this young how to read, write, draw pictures, sing, make ceramic mugs, and kick a soccer ball?
The media bias is obvious. If New York or Massachusetts passed a law banning prayer in school (no need to thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, of course), does anyone honestly believe CNN would call it the “Don’t Say God” bill?
And where are the news stories about a new Morning Consult/Politico poll showing that — despite the mountain of misleading media coverage — Americans support the bill 51-35 percent.
Progressives are demanding that 5-year-olds must have the “Heather Has Two Mommies” conversation. Many parents believe it is simply not age-appropriate. Why should these moms and dads have their wishes overridden by classroom activists with a political agenda?
The war on parents’ rights is nothing new. For years, abortion activists have pushed laws allowing children (that is the legal definition of a 15-year-old girl, by the way) to have abortions without their parent’s knowledge or consent. That was a bridge too far even for the same Supreme Court that rescued Roe in its Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling. It upheld the right of states to protect a parent’s role in the medical procedures their children undergo.
Let’s be very clear: The opponents of the Florida law are deliberately misleading the public and misrepresenting the nature of the legislation in order to play the homophobia card. Nothing in this law defames or diminishes the LGBTQ community. Nothing prohibits the word “gay.” It simply says that in certain grades, where these issues are entirely inappropriate and largely irrelevant, parents have a right to think about what their K-3rd graders are learning in school, not about what NPR or People magazine think is important.
In an age where Merrick Garland’s Justice Department has called parents “domestic terrorists” and the media labels mothers and fathers who speak out at school board meetings “white supremacists” (even the parents of color) it’s good to know at least one state still believes parents have a small role to play in their children’s lives.