On the unusual honesty of Florida GOP leaders

This year’s legislative session proved edifying for once. Confident about a supermajority that looks as adamantine as ever, Florida legislators and Ron DeSantis’ minions have blessed their chamber and honored their offices by being as honest as possible. From Don’t Say Gay bill sponsor Sen. Dennis Baxley musing on the Florida House floor about why so many darn boys wanna kiss other boys (“So my question is, simply, are we encouraging this or eliminating it by putting emphasis on it?”) to the Mouth of Sauron herself, Christine Pushaw, just thinkin’ things aloud on Twitter, claiming the bill “is more accurately described as an Anti-Grooming bill,” the fearlessness of these people represents the final triumph of Trumpism, whereby the once instinctual need to sugarcoat malevolent legislation in public has become as vestigial as the human appendix. I do come across hackwork like this, written as if by an apparatchik in a one-party state, but these bleats look as quaint as free chamber of commerce publications (I suspect what irritates the Florida GOP is how for once Democratic opponents came up with a pithy nickname that also accurately describes the legislation itself).

Here’s the bill’s language:

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.

As Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern remarks, the conjunction “or” works as a disjunctive: it separates “kindergarten through grade” and grades 4 and higher. Stern:

The bill applies two different rules for these two different groups. For the first group (grades K–3), it imposes an absolute ban on “classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity.” For the second group (grades 4–12), it imposes a partial ban, outlawing instruction that is “not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate … in accordance with state standards.”

When even masters of #bothsides like the New York Times note the intentional clumsiness of the bill’s prose I know the GOP propaganda machine has decelerated.

Just to be clear, Florida public schools do not teach gender identity. I learned my oldest niece, a charter school student, asking about her grandmother’s gender, a question prompted by discussions among her friends or something she picked up on the internet. This proves how children will learn thins we had no intention of teaching. Thanks to the cruelty and caprice of the Florida GOP, it’s not like teachers can clarify, aloud or privately, questions like my niece’s.

And I wish Florida public schools had taught gender identity sometime between fifth and twelfth grades. We need sex education. Grade school children need to know about reproduction and their bodies as soon as they can. Demystify sex like the French and Spanish do drinking. It would inspire more questions and likely result in less anxious, paranoid young adults.

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