Wed. Aug 17th, 2022

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Florida’s ‘do not say gay’ law officially goes into effect

Rainbows are no longer welcome in the Sunshine state. On Friday, Florida’s Parental Rights in Education measure, more commonly known as the “do not say gay” law, officially took effect. Under the new law, public school teachers are not allowed to “encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels”.

What does that vague wording mean, exactly? Since heterosexuality is a sexual orientation, does the new law mean a straight teacher can not mention their spouse? Since discussing gender identity is banned, will students be prohibited from referring to anyone as ‘he’ or ‘she’? Will teachers have to drop gendered honorifics like Mr, Mrs or Miss?

No, of course not. The bill was not designed to be applied with any sort of consistency. It was designed to do one thing and one thing only: terrorize LGBTQ + people. Like Texas’s abortion bounty law, the do not say gay bill gives parents the power to levy lawsuits against teachers or schools they believe contravene the deliberately broad law. The threat of being hit with a costly lawsuit means that it’s likely underfunded school districts will err on the side of bail and ask teachers to avoid saying or doing anything that could possibly be construed as queer. Indeed, lawyers have already told teachers in Orange county public schools that they should be careful not to wear rainbows; avoid mentioning same-sex spouses or displaying any pictures of them; and ensure they remove safe-space stickers from their classroom doors. So there you go: the party that professes to love free speech and small government has pushed through a law that means a rainbow sticker could end a teacher’s career.

While you can not say gay in Florida schools any more, teachers can pray as much as they like. On Monday, the supreme court ruled that the right to exercise free speech means public school teachers are allowed to lead organized prayer with students while on school grounds. (Although it’s not clear if they’ll be quite so enthusiastic about Muslims or Jews leading prayers.) Teachers can indoctrinate kids with Christianity all they like but, in Florida, they can not mention that they married to someone of the same sex. And that state of affairs is going to spread beyond Florida very quickly; expect a lot more do not say gay Bills to start popping up around the US. At least a dozen states are considering legislation that would mirror Florida’s law and turn public schools into a hostile environment for anyone who is not straight or does not conform to gender norms.

What are the Democrats doing about all this? What they do best: expressing a lot of concern without offering any real solutions. On Thursday – the last day of Pride month – Joe Biden tweeted a video of him telling young people in the LGBTQ + community: “We have your back. ” Really? Because I’m starting to have a hard time believing that. If they are serious about having young LGBTQ + people’s backs, Democratic leadership could start with growing a backbone themselves.

Putin says other leaders would look ‘disgusting’ topless

At the recent G7 summit, Britain’s Boris Johnson joked that western leaders should take off their tops to “show that we’re tougher than Putin” and Justin Trudeau joked that they should all have a “bare-chested horseback riding display”. In response, Putin said that Western leaders abuse alcohol and do not exercise and it would “be a disgusting sight”. Wouldn’t it be nice if the world were run by grown-ups, eh?

Republican congressional candidate thinks rape rarely leads to pregnancies

Yesli Vega was rightly mocked for this very unscientific take but insisted to Axios in a statement that she knows how biology works: “I’m a mother of two, I’m fully aware of how women get pregnant.” Ma’am, I’m not sure you are.

Utah Republican apologizes for saying women can control ‘intake of semen’

When schools do not teach sex education, you end up with politicians like this.

Far-right Spanish politician wants to crack down on casual sex

It’s not just the US where politicians have weird views on sex. Spain’s Juan García-Gallardo wants everyone to remember that “the main purpose of sex is procreation” and thinks that people having sex for fun is responsible for Spain’s “demographic winter”. He must be fun at parties.

Thousands of Arab women to strike after shocking murders

Following a number of shocking gender-based murders of women in the region, thousands of Arab women are preparing for a “general strike” on 6 July. “It’s time for us to publicly say that we will no longer accept random individual solutions that are not enough to combat systematic violence and oppression,” the organizers state in an Instagram post.

sign says 'her name was Zara Aleena', among flowers
Tributes to Zara Aleena in London this week. Photograph: Ted Hennessey / PA

RIP Zara Aleena: another woman killed while walking home

The aspiring lawyer was murdered by a stranger 10 minutes away from her home in east London. “She walked everywhere,” her family said in a moving statement. “She put her party shoes in a bag and donned her trainers. She walked. Zara believed that a woman should be able to walk home. ”

Which she utterly deserves. But, the question remains, who was she trafficking teenage girls to? All the powerful men involved with Jeffrey Epstein appear to have got a get out of jail free card.

Instagram is blocking posts that mention abortion from public view

It’s just a “bug”, they’ve said. This ‘bug’ follows an Associated Press report that Facebook and Instagram were deleting posts by people offering to mail out abortion pills.

A brief history of women’s eyebrows in art

In ancient Greece, a unibrow was a sign of wisdom. In medieval western Europe, however, “misogynistic scientific writing had made female body hair a psychic and physical danger to men”, so women aggressively plucked their eyebrows to oblivion.

The week in pawtriarchy

The day British taxpayers have all been waiting for has finally come: they have become shareholders in Killing Kittens, a sex-party startup founded by a schoolfriend of the Duchess of Cambridge. The government gave the company a loan during the pandemic, leading the founder to joke that she had never “envisaged Boris as a sleeping partner”. Now that loan has been converted into an equity stake. I’m not entirely sure why this makes sense but the government seems very enthusiastic about it.

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