As you’ve probably heard by now, Ron DeSantis is currently on a quest to inflict antigay, antitrans, antidrag, antiabortion, antidiversity, antifacts, anti-free-speech, anti-anything-that-Ron-disagrees-with policies on the people of Florida, which he seemingly believes will win him the presidency. To that end, it apparently wasn’t enough to sign the bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” bill into law last year, which banned classroom instruction in kindergarten through third grade. No, Ron had to do one worse.
On Wednesday, the Florida Board of Education expanded that ban through grade 12, at the request of the Florida governor. According to The Washington Post, the new rule states that Florida teachers in grades four through 12 “shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction…on sexual orientation or gender identity” unless the instruction is required by state standards—which it’s obviously not—or “part of a reproductive health course” that a student’s parent can choose for them to opt out of. (No worry there, as Paul Burns, Florida’s chancellor for K-12 public schools, noted Wednesday that “abstinence is the required expectation of what we teach in our schools” in health classes.) The rule will go into effect approximately one month from now, a Florida Education Department spokeswoman told the Post, which noted that teachers who violate it could have their licenses suspended or revoked.
In a ridiculous bit of gaslighting that it’s hard to believe even he believes, Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. claimed Wednesday that the move is simply about helping teachers better do their jobs, and totally not about muzzling them or pretending that LGBTQ+ people don’t exist so DeSantis can burnish his right-wing credentials. “We’re not removing anything here,” Diaz Jr. said. “All we are doing is we are setting the expectations so our teachers are clear: that they are to teach to the standards.” In a statement, Department spokesman Alex Lanfranconi was more blunt about the (bigoted) reasoning behind the ban, saying “the topics of gender identity and sexual orientation have no place in the classroom” and that “today’s state board action reaffirms Florida’s commitment to uphold parental rights and keep indoctrination out of our schools.”
Of course, as not-hateful or ignorant individuals know, merely teaching about people who are not straight or don’t identify with their sex at birth is not “indoctrination” or part of the alleged woke agenda that DeSantis insists children must be protected from. “Let’s put it plainly: This is part of the governor’s assault on freedom,” Joe Saunders, senior political director of Equality Florida, said in a statement. The new rule, he added, will “further stigmatize and isolate a population of young people who need our support now more than ever.” He added that “under the vague new rules,” a teacher could, ridiculously, be fired for talking to 11th graders about Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case that gave same-sex couples the right to marry, which it seemingly would. “This rule is by design a tool for curating fear, anxiety, and the erasure of our LGBTQ community,” he said.
As a reminder, DeSantis is currently in a feud with Disney, one of Florida’s largest employers, for having the audacity to criticize “Don’t Say Gay” last year. On Monday, he suggested that the state might build a prison complex next to the theme park as part of his campaign of retribution.
Americans are now being shot and killed over simple misunderstandings—and Republicans could not give less of a f—k
In a reasonable society, accidentally ringing the wrong doorbell, pulling into the wrong driveway, or getting into the wrong car would not result in being shot. However, in America—which is not a reasonable society, but rather one in which a large segment of the population cares about the supposed right to bear arms more than it cares about human beings—it’s happened three times since last Thursday.
On Tuesday, two cheerleaders were shot outside of Austin, Texas, after one of them reportedly got into the wrong car. According to KTRK, Heather Roth got out of a teammate’s car and opened the door to what she thought was her own car. Seeing a man sitting in the passenger seat, and apparently still thinking it was her car, she panicked, she said, and returned to her friend’s vehicle. Realizing her error and seeing the man approaching, Roth rolled down the window to apologize to him, she said—at which point he pulled out a gun and started shooting. “He just started shooting at all of us,” Roth said, according to KTRK. The athlete reportedly “suffered a graze wound and was treated at the scene,” while fellow cheerleader Payton Washington “was struck twice in the leg and back and was flown to the hospital in critical condition.” (In an affidavit, a witness said they saw the shooter fire on the car multiple times before fleeing the scene; police have reportedly arrested Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr. and charged him with deadly conduct.)
The shooting followed the killing of Kaylin Gillis, who was shot in upstate New York on Saturday by a 65-year-old after her friend accidentally pulled into the wrong driveway. The group was reportedly turning around—and never even got out of the car—when Kevin Monahan allegedly fired at least two shots at the vehicle. Monahan was charged with murder on Monday.
Gillis’s murder came just two days after the shooting of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, who was shot twice by Andrew Lester on Thursday after ringing the wrong doorbell while trying to pick up his younger brothers in Kansas City, Missouri. Yarl, who is Black, had accidentally gone to Northeast 115th Street instead of Northeast 115th Terrace, which is just one block away. According to prosecutor Zachary Thompson, Yarl did not “cross the threshold” into the home—nor was there any indication that “words were exchanged”—yet Lester allegedly shot him, in the forehead and right arm, through a glass door. Lester was not charged until Monday; he faces charges of assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. After a warrant was issued for his arrest, he surrendered on Tuesday. That same day, Yarl’s classmates staged a walkout on his behalf.
Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Connecticut senator Chris Murphy, a longtime advocate for stricter gun laws, said America is turning into “a killing field” where “even simple wrong turns are becoming potentially deadly,” which would sound dramatic if not for the fact that it’s 100% true.