Return Of Zombie 'Don't Say Gay' In F-L-A!
St. Petersburg Pride Parade 2017. Photo: City of St. Pete, Creative Commons License 2.0

January 2022 has been quite the month for the culture warriors who used to freak out about "cancel culture." In less than a year, they've gone from bemoaning the "cancellation" of six old Dr. Seuss books that the publishers decided to stop selling because they were racist, to gleefully purging school classrooms and libraries of anything they thought might put LGBTQness, sex ed, feminism, or "critical race theory" ("anything that says 'Jim Crow was bad'") in innocent white children's tender brains. In Tennessee, a school board decided that a brilliant book about the Holocaust was unfit for middle schoolers, not because of the genocide but because of eight cuss words.

And now Florida has two simultaneous culture war fights going on. A "Don't Say Gay" bill in the state legislature would limit classroom discussion of sexual orientation, and a school district's attempt to ban "critical race theory" led to the cancellation of a seminar for history teachers on the Civil Rights Movement. We have no doubt that Gov. Ron DeSantis will praise both efforts for protecting Florida kids from "learning things" every bit as much as he's protecting all Floridians from public health.

You Or Your Parents Might Be Queer, But Not Here

Two identical bills in the Florida Legislature, HB 1557 and SB 1834, say that schools

may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.

To make things fun for school districts, the bill would allow parents to sue for damages, as well as reimbursement of court costs and attorneys' fees. No doubt fans of really cracking down on liberal indoctrination will be disappointed that it doesn't also allow for firing teachers and stripping them of their certification; but hey, there's always the amendment process to look forward to.

The House version moved forward this week in the Education & Employment Committee, which sent it along to its next stop in the Judiciary Committee.

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Joe Harding (ABC News neglected to list his party affiliation, though we'll assume he's not a Democratic Socialist); the first page of the bill explains the goal is to "reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing and control of their children." Harding for some reason did not respond to ABC News's request for comment. On the bright side, he didn't try to run down any reporters with a lifted Dodge Ram diesel pickup, either, as far as we know.

As you'd expect, LGBTQ rights groups are adamantly opposed to the measure, since it would be damaging to gay young people, and for that matter to kids with gay parents or family members. Presumably, a school could get in trouble for "encouraging" a kid who might want to talk about how both his moms are pretty great, but in different ways. Shut that down, for heaven's sake! Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary Mayor Pete Buttigieg, tweeted that if it were enacted, the bill would negate gay kids' identities, with potentially deadly results:

This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in. In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can't talk to their teachers?

On the other hand, aren't a few gay kids a small price to pay to make sure that some decent rightwing Christian parent doesn't have to explain to their second grader why their classmate talked about her two dads? Similar "don't say gay" bills have been introduced in other states in 2022, including Arizona, Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and South Dakota.

As Judd Legum reports, the latest state to join the censorship club is Goddamn Oklahoma, where a proposed bill would eliminate from schools any book that includes "lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender issues or recreational sexualization."

Oh, don't think straight people get off the hook: the bill defines "recreational sexualization" as "any form of non-procreative sex."

Oklahoma's gonna make every mom and dad in literature get twin beds!

All these assholes can go recreationally sexualize themselves.

What Could Be Wrong About Banning White Supremacy, Huh?

In other Florida Bigot News, school administrators in Osceola County cancelled a seminar for the district's history teachers because the administrators feared the topic, the history of the US Civil Rights Movement since 1896, might be chock full of CRT, which could presumably infect the teachers, who might pass it on to innocent children. The seminar was supposed to take place last weekend, but Michael Butler, a history prof at Flagler College in St. Augustine, got a surprise phone call informing him the event would be canceled.

Butler told the Florida Politics blog that nobody from the school had asked him about what would be in the presentation, which he said didn't actually do any critical race theorying anyway.

“I was shocked. There is a lot that bothers me about this,” Butler said in a phone interview. “I think that critical race theory is so nebulous that, for people who aren’t experts in the field, CRT is becoming a euphemism for Black history, and that is a shame. They aren’t the same.”

Then again, Florida's State Board of Education last year adopted rules that really do appear to prohibit teaching history accurately. The rules explain that

Instruction on the required topics must be factual and objective, and may not suppress or distort significant historical events, such as the Holocaust, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the civil rights movement and the contributions of women, African American and Hispanic people to our country, as already provided in Section 1003.42(2), F.S.

Well that sounds nice! Let's be factual and objective, shall we? The next lines specifically define what counts as "accurate" history in Florida. There's a prohibition on the "denial or minimization of the Holocaust," which certainly seems a good thing to avoid, but then there's this very dubious definition of critical race theory,

meaning the theory that racism is not merely the product of prejudice, but that racism is embedded in American society and its legal systems in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.

We guess that could get in the way of teaching accurately about the Jim Crow era and the Civil Rights movement, considering that segregation was absolutely intended to "uphold the supremacy of white persons." You couldn't very well discuss much of the history of the Great Migration, the negotiations over the New Deal, or any of the civil rights laws without breaking that rule.

Further, the rules specifically ban one publication, and very narrowly define what America's founding was about:

Instruction may not utilize material from the 1619 Project and may not define American history as something other than the creation of a new nation based largely on universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence. Instruction must include the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments.

Darned if we know how you'd even begin to teach about the Three-Fifths Compromise or the Dred Scott decision, which quite specifically did not apply the "universal" principles of the Declaration of Independence to all people in the US.

Maybe you could teach history simply by saying Jim Crow and voting restrictions existed, as long as you don't say who put those things in place or why. Isn't it great they're gone now? No, Teanna, we can't let you tell us about the time your dads took you to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, because if we discuss victims of lynching it might suggest that one particular group of Americans did that to another particular group in an attempt to uphold the supremacy of white persons. That would never happen in a great nation that was based on the universal principles in the Declaration of Independence.

Tell you what, let's just do Parts of Speech again today, shall we?

No, Bruno, not pronouns. We don't talk about those either.

[ABC News / Photo: City of St. Pete, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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