The secret plan behind Florida’s “don’t say gay” bill: Bankrupting public education

Republicans widely view the deception of “critical race theory” as a crucial component for the return of the Virginia governorate in 2021, so it’s no surprise that the party is rapidly expanding a national war with educators under the guise of “parental rights” in 2022. Now the impetus for banning books, which originally focused on books on race and racism, has expanded dramatically to rule out any recognition that LGBTQ people exist at all. The most notable of these efforts is the banally named “Parental Rights in Education” bill in Florida, which seeks to speed up Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

One of the main provisions of the law, called by opponents of the bill “Do not say gay”, which, of course, is more accurate, is a ban on “in-depth discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity”, as well as language clearly designed to force educators to inform parents of any children suspected of LGBTQ. Censorship of any mention of LGBTQ people or children going for walks in front of abusive parents is reason enough to oppose the bill. But as hard as it may be to believe, behind this and many other similar bills is an even more sinister agenda.

On the topic: “Parental rights” began in the Christian land – now it is a winning problem for the Republican Party

These bills are modeled on the backdoor mechanism that Republicans used to ban abortions in Texas, creating a “bounty hunter” system that allows human rights activists to sue anyone suspected of providing or even simply helping a patient have an abortion. And just as the lawsuit strategy has helped the far right achieve the dream of eliminating legal abortion in Texas, it can be used to achieve their even more secretive desire to stop public schooling, which we know.

According to Michael Daly of the Daily Beast, the Do Not Tell Gays bill gives parents an almost absolute right to sue the school for failing to inform them of any “important decisions that affect mental, emotional or physical well-being.” The definition of “critical” is vague and probably comprehensive. Democratic opponents, for example, have noted that schools can be sued for allowing children to request vegetarian food. But in fact the word “critical” is so broad that it encompasses anything. Don’t like your child reading poetry rather than playing sports? Don’t like that your child draws in their notebook the name of an unfavorable lover? Don’t want your child to decide to read Tony Morrison’s “Favorites” instead of Ben Shapiro’s bitter novel? Just claim that the child’s “well-being” is violated, and sue the school.

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In Oklahoma, a similar bill that uses a bounty hunter system would allow parents to sue schools for allegedly promoting “positions that run counter to a student’s religious beliefs.” Again, the language is very slurred. What is “promotion of positions” or “tightly preserved religious beliefs?” Certainly, any book on biology that mentions evolution will be a target, or health class, that recognizes human sexuality real. But we know that parental rights groups have also tried to ban books that acknowledge mythologies or religious beliefs that are not Christianity, including books on Greek mythology. Can teachers be the target to explain how the constellations were named? Or that the days of the week belong to northern mythology? Will school libraries be judged for keeping books like Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, which Christian groups oppose on the grounds that they “promote” witchcraft?

These bills are two of the worst examples, but the strategy is spreading across the country.

On the topic: What is behind the frenzy of banning the books of the right? Big money and long term plan

Republican-controlled legislatures continue to pass bills that will encourage head-to-head hunting against schools for allowing children to learn or even hear about anything not previously approved by parents. These bills don’t just create an atmosphere of intimidation when teachers are afraid to teach anything – but what if parents say their religion forbids teaching algebra to get their hands on money? As is the case with the “bounty hunter” abortion law in Texas, these bills create an opportunity for the right to bankrupt schools through lawsuits, closing them down forever.

This sounds outrageous, but in fact it is not. Right-wing circles have long dreamed of ending public education as we know it and replacing it with a system of private schools and home schooling for those who can afford it, and for those who cannot, without schooling. all. As Catherine Joyce documented for the Salon, the fig leaf of “parental rights” has long been used as a cover for what is an open war with public education. And, as Salon writer John Skolnik said, the various parental rights groups that recently appeared in the news are funded by a shadow network of far-right operatives who would like general education to disappear. As political scientist Maurice T. Cunningham, author of Dark Money and the School Privatization Policy, told Skolnik, the goal is to “destroy and ultimately privatize America’s public school system.”

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The problem with this, as with the abortion ban, is that it is very unpopular with the public.

The right has long been looking for closed ways to rid schools of funding and shut them down without involving the public in the debate. They know this is a debate they are losing. That’s why the “bounty hunter” system that Texas uses to ban abortions is so appealing. This allows states, under the guise of “parental rights”, to create a system that will direct huge sums of money from schools into the pockets of anti-education activists. They should not officially terminate public education through the legislature. They can just use this bounty hunter system to make schools impossible.

Related: Critics were right: the panic of “critical race theory” is just a cover for educators’ silence

The hatred of the right towards public education is not so difficult to understand. They are not just afraid that children will learn forbidden knowledge – for example, what happened to Jim Crow or that LGBTQ people are real – in the classroom or in the library. Often things outside the classroom pose no less of a threat to conservative ideology. Children meet different people and learn different ideas not only from teachers but also from each other. Even if, for example, every book that mentions LGBTQ is destroyed, children will still learn from each other. Public education also makes it much harder for wealthy white people to accumulate all the prestigious employment opportunities by giving working-class people and people of color the opportunity to earn the degrees needed to get the job.

But it will not be possible to sell this censorship and classicist agenda directly to the public. Instead, Republicans are building this backdoor that will allow them to destroy schools through the courts rather than simply deprive them of funds in the legislature. If these bills become law, there may be no limit to how much damage the law can do to public education through frivolous lawsuits based on senseless claims to “parental rights”.

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