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Florida’s Anti-Grooming Bill

What possible good motives are there for teaching sexuality to a six year old?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2022 CPAC conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Rumor has it that the Sunshine State is heading back to the Dark Ages. Effectively voiding Lawrence v. Texas, on Tuesday the Florida legislature passed a bill inspired by simple hate, clearly aimed at the othering of LGBTQIA+ Floridians (youth especially) and certain to lead to a wave of atrocious violence against them. Gay men, women, children, etc., will be driven underground, forced to conduct their affairs in secret out of fear for their safety and the vengeance of the state. Public executions start on Monday.

Do not be fooled by the bill’s innocuous name: the Parental Rights in Education Act. This is mere “cynicism” an obfuscation of the proposed law’s true intent and motivations. Nor should you be taken in by the bill’s innocuous content: It consists mostly of requirements for “notifying a parent about his or her student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,” with the caveat that “school personnel [may] withhold such information from a parent if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”

Its most offensive provision—this one is really bone-chilling—reads: “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.”

This “vague but menacing language is clearly focused on chilling any mention of L.G.B.T.Q.+ lives. It’s overreach in search of an actual problem.” This is gay erasure.

That’s what the New York Times would have you think. The paper of record has joined the moral panic over H.B. 1557, the bill dubbed hysterically “Don’t Say Gay” by its critics on the left.

Joining them on this crusade are other prominent outlets of the prestige liberal media, such as the Associated Press—which has reported on it as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill instead of its actual name—and former sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, where Colin Jost (who occupies the slot on “Weekend Update” once held by funny people like Norm MacDonald) claimed that “the law actually means that you can’t acknowledge that ‘gay’ exists at all…. Like teachers can’t speak about gay people in history, or if a kid has a gay family member.”

Kate McKinnon reacted: “I am deeply gay—sorry, concerned, deeply concerned. It just feels like this is gonna make kids gay and trans—sorry, depressed and suicidal. And I think these laws are lesbians—sorry, unconscionable, unconscionable.” I can’t say that I understand the joke here. To accidentally say gay when one means depressedtrans when one means suicidal, and lesbians when one means to say unconscionable does not exactly suggest the pro-LGBT agenda the comics no doubt had in mind.

Likewise, when McKinnon continues, “So, like, one kid can say ‘I live with my parents’ but another has to say ‘I live in a house with two adult men who bought me when I was young’?” a right-wing viewer is apt to feel the joke is just a little on the nose.

McKinnon ends bizarrely singing the word “gay” on a loop in a gravelly voice, banging on a desk as the audience sings along. Oddly enough, she is not the only lefty performer to partake of this strange ritual of late. Early this week, as discussion of the bill blew up online, the Florida Senate Democrats posted a cringeworthy video of three older women—presumably members—singing the word with their arms around each other, stumbling through an awkward dance as a crowd of blue-haired teenagers looks on.

Christina Pushaw, who serves as Governor DeSantis’s press secretary, asked rhetorically in response: “Why do Republicans always win in Florida even though it’s a purple state?”

Pushaw also notably tweeted from her personal account: “The bill that liberals inaccurately call ‘Don’t Say Gay’ would be more accurately described as an ‘Anti-Grooming Bill.’ 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.”

Asked to walk it back by a man with a trans flag as his Twitter header and “He/Him. Warren Democrat, married, gay, theatre actor, and living with #SpinaBifida” as his bio, Pushaw responded in part, “I do not see any good reason for anyone, regardless of orientation or identity, to condone instruction about sex and gender theory to VPK[voluntary pre-kindergarten]-3rd graders.”

Governor DeSantis, who is expected to sign the bill, similarly described the bill’s controversial prohibition as “no sexual instruction in grades pre-k through three.” Though Pushaw was widely rebuked by left-wing and LGBT activists online, she makes an important point: What possible good motives are there for teaching sexuality to a six year old? Anybody who wants to do that has to be at least a little creepy, and is likely to be very, very creepy. (It is worth remembering that roughly 1 in every 10 students reports experiencing sexual misconduct from a school employee by high school graduation.)

Take, for example, Stacy Philips, the mayor pro tempore of Huntersville, North Carolina. Mayor Philips first issued a tweet inviting any children living under a so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law to send her private messages if they wanted to speak secretly to an adult about matters of sexuality, then deleted the tweet, then deleted her entire account. Or progressive philanthropy Together Rising, which made sure to assert in its announcement of big-dollar LGBT grants for Florida that “there’s no such thing as other people’s children.”

The absolute best that can be said for these people is that they just want to make sure the foundations of left-wing sexual ethics are planted early and irrespective of the values of children’s parents—that public education is used as a tool for progressive social engineering. The worse alternatives are horrifying. Neither can be allowed by any order worth conserving.

about the author

Declan Leary is associate editor of The American Conservative. He was previously an editorial intern at National Review and has been a frequent contributor to Crisis Magazine.

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