Surprise: Florida Republicans Want to Ban Talk of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Schools

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As you’ve probably heard by now, the latest cause that conservatives have decided to rally around is banning schools from talking to children about topics they think are inappropriate for impressionable young minds. What do those topics include? Well, institutional racism in America and the reality that discrimination didn’t cease to exist after the end of slavery, to start. Lessons that paint Nazism as a bad thing, of course. Climate change, obviously. And now, in Florida, talk of sexual orientation or gender identity, which some Republicans apparently think could lead to terrifying outcomes like students feeling supported and being allowed to express themselves during a key period in their lives.

Yes, last Friday the Republican-led House Education and Employment Committee passed the Parental Rights in Education bill, which sounds relatively inoffensive until you actually hear what it’s about. Also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, the legislation requires the implementation of “procedures to reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children,” bans teachers from encouraging talk about LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom that are “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” and allows parents to take legal action against school districts if they think their “fundamental right” as parents has been violated. (If they win, parents can collect damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees.)

Apparently channeling an evangelical preacher, state representative Joe Harding, who introduced the bill, claimed the bill is “about defending the most awesome responsibility a person can have: being a parent,” adding, “That job can only be given to you by above.” In response, Equality Florida’s public policy director Jon Harris Maurer said: “We’re parents, students, and teachers. We are your brothers and your sisters. Conversations about us aren’t something dangerous that should be banned…. [This bill] is only talking about sexual orientation and gender identity, and it’s stigmatizing because of that. Sexual orientation and gender identity are about who we love and who we are.”

Chasten Buttigieg, an LGBTQ+ advocate and Pete Buttigieg’s husband, tweeted: “This will kill kids…You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in.” He cited data from the the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that provides mental health support to LGBTQ+ youth, noting that “42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide last year.” On the other hand, the organization has found that “LGBTQ+ youth who learned about LGBTQ+ issues or people in classrooms had 23% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the last 12 months,” The Guardian notes. In a statement criticizing the bill, the group’s director of advocacy and government affairs said: “This bill will erase young LGBTQ+ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face.”

While it’s not clear what the odds of the bill becoming law are—it’s now with the Judiciary Committee—it’s clearly more than zero. Which is pretty f–king scary, but apparently it’s the world a disturbing number of Republicans want to live in.

Rudy Giuliani has found himself in a rather unique legal situation

In that his alleged misdeeds are getting in the way of his other alleged misdeeds. Per Insider:

Rudy Giuliani can’t hand over documents for Dominion Voting System’s $1.3 billion lawsuit against him because they’re in the possession of the FBI. The revelation came in a new filing for a sprawling legal case where Dominion has sued Giuliani, fellow pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell over an array of false conspiracy theories that the election technology company manipulated the results of the 2020 election.

In a joint letter proposing a schedule to move those cases forward, Dominion’s attorneys wrote that Giuliani can’t provide discovery material for the lawsuit against him because the FBI seized them when they raided his home in May as part of an investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws. Giuliani didn’t make any backup copies, his lawyers say.

“Giuliani claims that he has no access to any electronic documents, files, or communications, including back-up files or files stored in the Cloud, from before April 2021 because those files have all been seized by the FBI, and Giuliani failed to maintain copies of any of them,” Dominion’s attorneys wrote in a straightforward yet objectively hilarious legal filing. While corroborating that the FBI is in possession of the files in question, Giuliani’s own attorney’s took issue with the notion that he just let the files walk out the door, writing: “Giuliani’s position is that given that the FBI did not offer Giuliani the opportunity to make back-up copies of the electronic devices and/or cloud data it took possession of, Giuliani objects to Plaintiffs’ suggestion that he ‘failed’ to maintain copies of the documents. These electronic files/data are no longer under Giuliani’s possession, custody, or control.”

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