Op-Ed: 'Don't Say Gay'? Media Lies About Florida's New Law to Undermine Its Governor


After years of smearing Donald Trump at every turn, Democrats, shamelessly but ably assisted by their media messenger boys, have now set their sights on another bright star in the Republican Party, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

He’s overwhelmingly favored to win re-election in November, and his name pops up quite frequently when the conversation turns to the 2024 presidential race.

DeSantis is known for going against the grain and marching to the beat of his own drum, particularly in how he has dealt with the pandemic. Agree or disagree, those are his decisions. He owns them, and it’s fair to judge him accordingly.

What is patently unfair, though — and egregious journalistic malpractice — is to misrepresent a bill DeSantis recently signed into law to make it seem as if Florida schools are now a cesspool of ostracization.

Democrats have labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay” law, and the media seems more than happy to perpetuate that narrative.

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An NBC News headline reads, “‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill: Florida Senate passes controversial LGBTQ school measure,” which NBC reported would “ban classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary schools.”

It’s a particularly flawed account. Not only does it focus on only one component of the law — you guessed it, the one likely to get the most clicks — but to purport that it forbids “discussion” is misleading. CNN also mischaracterized it this way, as have numerous copycats.

The law, aptly titled Parental Rights in Education, focuses on increasing parent notification and awareness of what their children are learning. It gives parents full access to their children’s health and academic records and the right not to have their children subjected to questionnaires about well-being that parents did not review and consent to ahead of time.

Of course, the media didn’t focus on those issues. They’re not controversial. You can probably count on one hand the number of Americans who’d say, “It’s perfectly fine with me not to have access to my children’s records.” Problem is, too many media outlets place profit above all else, and uncontroversial topics don’t yield high ratings.

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Enter the sexy topic of sex — more specifically, sexual orientation.

There’s only one sentence in the new law on the topic: “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.”

Notice that the ban is on classroom instruction, not discussion, and is only absolute in kindergarten through third grade.

In other words, when the second-grade teacher asks, “What did you do this weekend?” and a student replies, “I went to the beach with my two moms,” that’s perfectly fine. Even if the student says, “One of my moms used to be a man,” the teacher’s not in trouble.

However, the law does prevent the admittedly rare but not impossible scenario wherein an overzealous teacher, seeing 8-year-old Johnny grab his classmate Suzie’s hair ribbon and wear it in his own hair for a laugh, says to him, “Johnny, do you feel more comfortable as a girl? Because it’s OK if you become a girl and call yourself Joanie.”

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Now Disney’s getting into the act, denouncing the new law because “it could be used to unfairly target gay, lesbian, non-binary and transgender kids and families.” How?

Members of the illiberal cancel culture left, who often seek to censor any idea that doesn’t perfectly conform to their own ideological worldview, now complain that this law runs contrary to their proclivity for free speech in an open, thriving marketplace of ideas.

If that weren’t so maddeningly hypocritical, it would be hilarious.

Then again, something tells me that if the governor in question were New Jersey’s Phil Murphy or Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf instead of DeSantis, the headlines would read, “New Law Strongly Supports Parent-Teacher Collaboration,” and Disney would’ve handed him a Magic Kingdom hat to wear when he signed it.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Constantinos E. (“Dino”) Scaros, JD, Ph.D., is a presidential historian, educator, attorney, newspaper editor and columnist, and political analyst. He is also the author of several books covering many contemporary issues, most recently "How to Talk Politics Without Arguing," "Trumped-Up Charges!" and "Stop Calling Them 'Immigrants.'" Follow him on his Facebook page: Listen to Dino.