Vice President Kamala Harris Claims That Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law Stops Teachers From Being “Able To Love Openly”
Is that really part of the law?
On July 24 an interview between Brian Tyler Cohen and Vice President Kamala Harris was published on YouTube. The channel’s 1.38 million subscribers were able to hear the Vice President’s thoughts on many of the current issues facing the country, as well as a critique of recent initiatives and legislative changes enacted in Republican-led states.
One of the topics covered that’s since received the most feedback and commentary was when VP Kamala Harris chose to address Florida’s Parental Rights in Education act — known by its critics as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ act.
What her comments have suggested to some, is that she may not even be fully appraised of the purpose or content of the law.
Stopping teachers from being “able to love openly”?
Commenting on the law, VP Harris seemed to be under the impression that the law actually featured a prohibition on teachers using the word ‘gay’, as well as preventing those who class themselves in this way from working in the profession.
In the video, VP Harris shared her views on the rights that come hand-in-hand with being legally allowed to vote, including the right to enter into a same-sex marriage. According to Harris such rights also include:
“…whether we are going to stand up against a law that says “Don’t Say Gay,” restricting kindergarten through third grade teachers to be able to love openly and teach what they believe is important for people to understand.”
Her comments attracted criticism online, predictably from Republicans who were keen to point out the inaccuracies in her understanding:
The law is about more than gender and sexual identity
The text of the law doesn’t demand that teachers “don’t say gay”, but rather it prohibits discussions of sexual and gender identity in grades K through 3. It also includes further provisions that are intended to protect the rights of kids by involving their parents in certain aspects of school life, including:
- Notifying parents about healthcare services offered at the school and giving them the right to decline any service offered (including mass-vaccinations)
- Ensuring that whenever a questionnaire or health screening is given to young students, parents receive it first and give permission for the school to give it to their child
Political motivations for wading into the debate?
Certainly, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ aspect of the law is headline-grabbing, and is the aspect that many find contentious, particularly in light of other recent legislative changes that appeal more to conservative-leaning Republicans than to Democrats.
However, it seems important that Kamala Harris would appreciate that in such matters, details and accuracy are important. Whether her comments will have any lasting effect other than perhaps widening the gulf between the sides of the political aisle, remains to be seen.
With midterm elections drawing near, it may just be that Harris is considering a future run as a presidential candidate. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is hotly rumored to be considering a run for the White House too, and a recent poll suggested that in a DeSantis vs Harris election, Harris would likely win.
This may be why Kamala Harris has chosen to embroil herself in one of Florida’s most high-profile issues, to start the battle early? Time will tell.
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