Words matter. The proper use of the English language is vital to Americans communicating with one another. Communication is at the heart of good relationships. Accurate communication of information is critical to our society and the democratic process.
Yet some have learned to use the English language to misinform and further their ideological agendas. Examples of this abound. Those who favor abortion on demand don’t call themselves Pro-Abortion; they call themselves Pro-Choice. Who isn’t in favor of allowing freedom of choice? A much larger percentage of the electorate favors freedom of choice than abortion.
This brings me to the current controversy here in Florida over a legislative bill that opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The actual name of the bill is the Parental Rights in Education Act. By now the word “gay” has become so common in our language as a description of homosexuals that you rarely hear the word used in any other context, even though Webster’s Dictionary lists that use of the word only as the fifth and last possibility. Opponents of the bill have cleverly managed to manipulate not only the media, but even some in the Florida legislature into believing the bill prohibits use of the word!
In truth, the bill says nothing about use of the word “gay” and it is never mentioned anywhere in the bill. But the Orlando Sentinel, a propaganda arm of the Democratic party, has repeatedly promoted the description of the bill as “Don’t Say Gay” in compliance with their liberal fans. Furthermore, they have pressured Walt Disney World into taking up this issue in defense of the gay community, even though this has nothing whatsoever to do with a theme park.
The issue has become so widely promoted in the media that even the Wall Street Journal editorial board felt it necessary to weigh in on the issue. In an editorial entitled, Does the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Say That?, they ask, “What does the seven-page bill actually do? One section says schools generally ‘may not discourage or prohibit parental notification of and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.’ Parents also can’t be blocked from ‘education and health records created, maintained, or used by the school.’”
Not much controversy there. What parent doesn’t want that?
Another section says, “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.” Parents who think the law isn’t being followed could ask for the appointment of a magistrate to review the dispute. Or they could sue to get a declaratory judgement and attorney fees.
WSJ says, “To millions of parents, this no doubt sounds noncontroversial. Their children’s mental health and school records are eminently their business. Kindergartners are supposed to be learning how to read and peaceably resolve turf wars over Tonka trucks. To their tiny ears, ‘sexual orientation’ is a string of silly nonsense syllables. The bill says older children could be taught ‘age-appropriate’ material.”
In point of fact, the bill will have little immediate impact. According to The Tampa Bay Times, “In practice, it is unclear exactly how things will change in the classroom because sexual orientation and gender identity is not something that is being taught in grades K-3 at the moment.” If that’s the case, you might wonder why this is controversial.
Apparently, earlier versions of the bill said that primary schools could not “encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation.” Critics said this was vague. The bill’s sponsors then eliminated this language, but the liberal media narrative train had already left the station. The result is reporters, aka media activists, are still quoting the wrong version of the bill.
The White House press secretary Jen Psaki got in on the act when she claimed that maybe the bill’s sponsors want to hurt children! She said, “Why are Florida leaders deciding they need to discriminate against kids who are members of the LGBTQI community? Is it meanness? Is it wanting to make kids have more difficult times in school?” After all this false narrative posturing, Disney CEO Bob Chapek caved to the pressure and apologized to the gay community saying, “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down.” The implication is that Disney will restrict its fundraising support of Republicans in future elections.
The Parental Rights in Education Act passed in the Florida Senate this week by a 22-17 vote with all of the Democratic Senators voting no in opposition to parental rights. Two Republican Senators also voted against the bill, saying they opposed the bill based on the negative public perception, founded on inaccurate media narratives.
In other words, they opposed the bill based on what opponents perceived was in the bill, but wasn’t, rather than voting based on what was clearly laid out in the text of the bill. It seems that misuse of the English language is effective, unfortunately, and therefore we can expect more of the same in the future.