Randi Weingarten, the president of one of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions, said last week that bills like Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act is “how wars start.”
“This is propaganda. This is misinformation,” Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers, said during an interview. “This is the way in which wars start. This is the way in which hatred starts.”
The Florida law, which was signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis late last month, prohibits sexuality instruction in Sunshine State classrooms in grades three and under and restricts it to age-appropriate material in older grades.
The bill has been characterized by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, although the legislation does not specify LGBT education.
Weingarten, who is gay, also pointed to the conservative push to re-open schools after the COVID-19 pandemic, which the AFT played an instrumental role in preventing across the nation, demanding vaccines and other protective measures for teachers as millions of parents saw their children suffer academically amid ongoing distance learning.
Weingarten said that lawmakers should have “get out of the effects of the pandemic,” The Epoch Times reported.
“Instead of just doing that, these right-wing ideologues are just trying to create fear and anxiety and anger, exploiting this fear that parents already have in order to win elections and end public education as we know it,” she told the Rick Smith podcast. “They’re using politics, creating intense long-term, harmful, cruel and political ramification.”
Parental rights in the classroom has been one of the top priorities of the Republican Party ahead of the November midterm elections.
Last year, now-Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin beat out his establishment Democrat opponent by focusing heavily on the rights of parents to determine what is taught in the classroom, particularly in regards to sex ed and critical race theory.
Weingarten, however, claimed that Youngkin’s strategy was only successful due to “seniors who got really scared about all of this fearmongering.”
“Parents know this is not what we’re doing,” Weingarten said. “We’re not indoctrinating. We’re not grooming. We’re actually teaching honest history, trying to help our kids recover.”
However, the parents’ rights movement has been galvanized over the last two years in large part thanks to parents and parent-led groups which have confronted school board members on COVID-19 policies, the divisiveness of CRT, and explicit sexuality education, often captured in videos that have gone viral, drawing attention to issues like the graphic nature of LGBT books in public school libraries.
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