The Log Cabin Republicans, a national gay conservative group, has accused Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, of “fear-mongering” over a proposed bill in Florida that would restrict classroom discussions about sex, sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The bill in question, sponsored by State Rep. Joe Harding (R-Williston), would, in part, prohibit teachers from “encouraging discussion” about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary-grade levels (in Florida, meaning from preschool up to Grade 3), or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
Buttigieg recently attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Twitter over the bill being pushed by DeSantis’ fellow Republicans, claiming that it would “kill kids” by making it harder for LGBTQ children to acknowledge their identities.
He later appeared on CNN to discuss his opposition to the bill, which he claimed was “essentially pushing kids back into the closet” and telling them that they “don’t belong here.”
Buttigieg pointed to a survey by The Trevor Project, the nation’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, which found that 42% of LGBTQ youth had contemplated suicide over the past year.
Buttigieg argued that the bill would send a negative message to LGBTQ youth that they don’t belong by telling them “…[W]e can’t talk about you, we can’t even talk about your families.”
But Log Cabin Republicans defended the bill, accusing Buttigieg of “dishonestly smear[ing]” Florida Republicans in an effort to portray them as anti-gay.
In a statement, the group noted that the respondents to the survey referenced by Buttigieg were high school-aged adolescents and young adults, not elementary school children.
As such, Log Cabin argued, comparing the statistics from that survey to a bill targeting classroom content for younger children is “negligent at best and propagandistic at its worst.”
“Contrary to Chasten Buttigieg’s LGBT fear-mongering and attempt for attention on CNN, Florida’s ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill will not silence gay people. It certainly will not kill them. All it does is reinforce the commonsense belief that teacher-led classroom discussions around sexual and gender identity do not belong in primary schools,” Log Cabin President Charles Moran said in a statement.
“Apparently Pete and Chasten Buttigieg are so far to the Left that they’re OK with Florida kindergarteners learning about gender fluidity and sexual preferences in the classroom.”
He continued: “Parents are free to discuss these issues with their children as they see fit, but that decision is up to the parents and not to agenda-driven Leftists like the Buttigiegs. You can be gay and also believe that parents have a right to control their young children’s education, especially when it comes to sexual identity.
“Log Cabin Republicans won’t stand by while the Left engages in dishonest attempts to smear conservatives as bigots, as Chasten is unfortunately trying to do here.”
Moran concluded: “Moreover, Buttigieg’s misrepresentation of the Trevor Project study, which does not mention anything about pre-adolescent children, is both disappointing and harmful. When someone in a position of leadership like Chasten Buttigieg uses such false and hyperbolic rhetoric, it distracts from meaningful discussions around real issues pertaining to LGBT suicide.”
The bill, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is being marketed by Republicans as a “parental rights” bill that would keep parents informed of any changes to student support services regarding their children, which could range from the development of a specialized learning plan to additional counseling for emotionally disturbed youth to decisions about whether to call a transgender child by a preferred name or pronouns.
The bill does contain an amendment that allows teachers to withhold some information in rare cases where “a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”
But LGBTQ activists have argued that there will be no nuance in how the statute, if passed into law, will be implemented in practice, leading teachers to potentially alienate LGBTQ children or children who are being raised in same-sex households because the teacher is prohibited from affirming such a reality.
For example, they ask, if a child of same-sex parents, unprompted, speaks openly in class about their home life, is the mere mention of an LGBTQ parent considered “inappropriate” content for which the student or the teacher will be punished or reprimanded?
In response, Harding, the bill’s sponsor, argued in committee testimony that the bill is not intended to stifle individual students’ speech, but simply ensure that “age-inappropriate” topics are not encouraged or pursued by teachers in classrooms.
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!