Republicans can learn from Florida’s parental rights bill victory

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida on February 24, 2022. (Octavio Jones/Reuters)

American voters favor the new Florida Parental Rights in Education Billdishonestly dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law by progressive opponents, by a 16-point margin, according to a new Politics/Morning consultation survey. The survey showed that 51% of registered voters approve of the legislation, which prohibits public schools from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) to students in kindergarten through third grade, while 35% oppose it. Caroline Downey writing:

“In-class instruction by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity may not take place in Kindergarten through Grade 3 or in any manner that is not appropriate to the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards,” the bill says.

When it comes to the second half of this provision, 52% of respondents also agreed with ensuring that discussion of sexuality and gender after year three is “age appropriate”. The bill allows parents to sue school districts they believe are breaking the law by offering programs on LGBT topics before third grade, an enforcement mechanism that only 41% of respondents support while 43% s oppose it.

Public opinion on the bill has followed partisan lines, with 70% of Republican voters supporting Florida’s legislation and 51% of Democrats rejecting it. The independents helped to change the balance with 46% for and 35% against.

This is yet another sign that the education culture wars are a winning issue for Republicans — and a losing issue for Democrats. Like I wrote last month:

The past few months have seen Democrats and the broader left suffer a series of humiliating losses in the culture wars. Particularly in education, the forceful grassroots reaction to critical race theory (CRT) has spawned anti-CRT laws in at least nine state legislatures, and red states across the country are expected to enact a list of similar laws in the next legislative session. The march of gender ideology in our institutions has met similar resistance, as ten states ban biological men from competing in women’s sports, and two others ban transition surgery and puberty-blocking drugs for minors. (Here too, similar legislation is also expected to pass in redder states this year).

In the battle between parents and the progressive ideologues of the education bureaucracy, Americans are firmly on the side of the former. Republicans have an important opportunity to position themselves as the “parents day– and more broadly, of normality. More often than not, battles against culture are won by the side that actually positions itself as the Ordinary people. Progressive sexual ideology is not normal. The progressive sexual ideology taught to young prepubescent children is more than abnormal; it’s foolish. At a press conference on Monday, in the wake of the Florida legislature passing the parental rights bill last week, Ron DeSantis noted: “As a parent of three children ages 5 and under, thank you for allowing me and my wife to send our children to kindergarten without them being sexualized. It’s a winning message. Progressives know it too. That’s why they’re hysterical.

Some Republicans have been reluctant to take on the woke societies that often spearhead the progressive culture war. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem infamous to corporate lobbyists when she vetoed a bill banning biological men from participating in women’s sports last March. (Although faced with a fierce backlash from the Tories, she since the introduction of new legislation in the same way). And as I wrote in January, “Even social conservatives such as Mike Pence were not immune to the increasingly liberal leanings of powerful corporations: In 2015, then-Indiana governor gave in to significant pressure from large companies changing the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, eventually going as far as explicitly protect sexual orientation and gender identity in Indiana anti-discrimination law.

But DeSantis didn’t back down. Like Phil Klein wrote“Disney CEO Bob Chapek made a public broadcast calling out DeSantis to protest the parental rights bill. . . . Some have suggested this puts DeSantis in a difficult spot, given that Disney is one of the most powerful companies in the state and one of its top employers.But the governor didn’t just tell Disney to pound sand, he made a public demonstration of it.

So what? He won. Rather than lean into the fight, Chapek announced that Disney would “suspend all political donations in the state of Florida.” In an open letter detailing the decision, Chapek apologized to progressive activists: “You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I apologize.” In the end, it was all just talk. DeSantis’ courage actually of– politicized the company. Go figure.

The episode — and subsequent polling numbers supporting the Republican stance — should give the GOP a playbook for dealing with woke ideology going forward. Standing up to bullies is popular. The sooner Republicans realize that the American people are behind them on this issue, the better.

About Therese Williams

Check Also

Most House Republicans backed aid from Ukraine. This NJ congressman didn’t.

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew was one of 57 House Republicans to oppose sending …