I’ve got two themes for you today! They are both kind of terrible, but hey, at least there’s a little variety!
The Big Takeaway
Reynolds signed the ban — along with a separate policy policing bathroom usage among transgender students — as Senate Republicans added an extra dash of discrimination to an already discriminatory “parental rights” bill before passing the measure on a party-line vote. As amended, the legislation would ban lessons about gender identity and sexual orientation through sixth grade, remove any school library books depicting sex acts and force teachers to out transgender students to their parents, per the Dispatch.
Democrats blasted the proposal as yet another attempt to score political points by wounding and ostracizing an already marginalized group of students. One lawmaker said the bill would exacerbate an ongoing teacher shortage by making out-of-state educators ever more leery of coming to Iowa. Another senator worried that the proposal would bar LGBTQ+ students and teachers from discussing their personal experiences in the classroom.
“You are promoting ignorance and intolerance by, not just the parents, but by the students in the schools that will no longer have information — proper information, factual information — about people who are different than themselves,” said state Sen. Molly Donahue, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids. “You’re undermining academic freedoms, because this restricts freedoms of educators to teach about important social issues, sexuality, even gender identity.”
Republicans dismissed those concerns as “hyperbole, exaggeration and misrepresentations” of a bill they said was simply meant to address differences in opinion about learning objectives. For example, did you know that one (1) member of one (1) school board wrote on Facebook that the purpose of public education is to teach children “what society needs them to know,” rather than “what the parents want?” Obviously, that warrants imposing restrictions on every public school in Iowa. What more evidence could you want? Pass the bill already!
“As long as I’m in this chamber, I will work to rein in those schools that believe the purpose of public education is to teach our children what they think society needs them to know,” said Republican state Sen. Ken Rozenboom. “We must put parents back in charge of their children’s education.”
Parents would also reign supreme under a bill in North Carolina that would require school districts to alert them 30 days before a teacher or invited guest “exposes” students to any topic Republicans have deemed unacceptable. So far, that list includes things like, “all Americans are not created equal,” and “the United States was created by members of a particular race or sex for the purpose of oppressing members of another race or sex,” NC Policy Watch reported.
In practice, the “equality in education” bill — approved Wednesday by House Republicans — would make it difficult for teachers to educate students about American history (Thomas Jefferson didn’t believe we are all individually equal; disagreements about slavery and race were key to uniting the states in the first place), women’s history (still waiting on equal rights over here), or the civil rights movement (difficult to discuss that without mentioning racial inequities). It would also create “two classes” of speakers, Democrats said — one group that’s allowed to address students in schools and one that isn’t, all based on the proclivities of a small group of GOP lawmakers.
“The bill, on its face, is the obvious attempt to micromanage from the General Assembly into the classrooms,” said state Rep. Laura Budd, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County. “It’s overreach, and will have a chilling effect on teachers and educators in curtailing what they think they’re allowed to teach.”
Not true, said Republicans. The bill doesn’t endorse a particular curriculum; it just aims to keep unpleasant lessons out of the classroom, and persuasive, indoctrinating speakers out of schools, according to state Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican. It’s about equality! It’s right there in the name!
“At the end of the day, we should all be able to agree that no student, no teacher, no parent, no school employee — no one should ever be made to feel inferior solely because of the color of their skin, their gender, national origin, race, religion, disability, familial status,” Torbett said. “Especially in our schools where learning for our young should be fun and exciting.”
Torbett and his fellow Republicans did not seem concerned that learning might be a lot less “equal” and “fun and exciting” once teachers are forced to abandon any lesson that does not revolve around straight, white, Christian men. They were similarly cavalier about the discordance of enshrining GOP ideology into state law in an attempt to prevent “persuasion and indoctrination.” The pro-parental-rights crowd did not bat an eye even after dozens of parents described the bill as an overreach that whitewashed history and excluded them from decisions about the type of material their children are permitted to see.
“To be clear,” Torbett said in what was not, actually, an attempt to clarify anything, “this bill does not change what history standards can and cannot be taught. It simply prohibits schools from endorsing discriminatory concepts.”
The bill goes next to the Senate, where Republicans will probably be similarly unconcerned about its many problematic provisions. From there, it’ll likely face a veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who nixed a similar proposal in 2021. Republicans can override him in the Senate, but they’ll fall one vote shy in the House if Democrats stick together. None of them voted for the bill Wednesday, and it’s probably not going to change enough to peel off any votes — but in these divisive times, it’s hard (and possibly illegal) to say for sure.
Mum’s the word: (Florida) Trifecta: Potentially removing books; banning LGBTQ+ instruction, restricting ‘pronouns’ in schools … (Indiana) Senate committee moves stricter version of bill targeting student pronoun changes in schools … (Maine) RSU 21 school board member resigns after racist, anti-LGBTQ posts spark recall effort … Missouri Senate advances bill banning transgender care for minors … (Nebraska) Second day of debate on trans health care bill brings personal stories to forefront … (Tennessee) House Speaker’s proposal to block TennCare contracts over trans health stopped in the Senate … (Wisconsin) Senate passes public safety bills, confirms Evers’ nominations and retains conversion therapy
Florida lawmakers on Thursday advanced legislation that would allow 18-year-olds to buy rifles and other long guns, effectively repealing a 2018 bill that raised the purchasing age to 21. The original measure was approved in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where an AR-15-toting 19-year-old killed 17 people, the Florida Phoenix reported.
House lawmakers said Thursday that the original bill was an overreach that unfairly punished law-abiding gun owners for the actions of one rogue gunman. The change would not affect other provisions in the bill, including measures that increased counseling in schools and made it easier for law enforcement to confiscate firearms from dangerous people — so the age limit is basically obsolete anyway, according to state Rep. Thad Altman, a Brevard County Republican.
“I don’t think that we need to penalize millions of young Americans between 18-21 for the actions of one individual,” Altman said. “I feel confident that [with] the actions we took in that vote and the way we’ve implemented those things to protect our students, we can make this change today and feel that we’re doing the right thing.”
I, personally, am thrilled to hear that someone (...Florida?) finally solved gun control, but not everyone is buying that explanation. The detractors include state Rep. Dan Daley, a Democrat — and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alum — who said he could not fathom that lawmakers were even considering rolling back the meager gun restrictions they’d cobbled into place five years ago.
“Nothing has changed,” he said. “It’s not that in the last five years since the passage of the bill, it’s not since the last five years since the shooting at my alma mater that suddenly brain development has sped up — that the science has changed and suddenly 18-year-olds are as rational as 25-year-olds. Nothing has changed there.”
Democratic lawmakers in Michigan were swift to pass gun control legislation after a February shooting at Michigan State University, including a package of safe-storage bills approved by the House on Wednesday. Republicans aren’t psyched, but they don’t have the votes to adequately express their displeasure, so they’ve taken the fight to social media. And it … has not gone well, per the Michigan Advance.
On Wednesday, the Michigan GOP posted on Facebook and Twitter a photo from the U.S. National Archives depicting a bin of wedding rings removed by Germans from Holocaust victims. Overlaid on the photo was text reading: “Before they collected all these wedding rings … They collected all the guns.
The backlash was swift and bipartisan. A Republican political consultant said the post violated “standards of human decency.” It’s possible, he tweeted, to denounce policy “without invoking the Holocaust, slavery, internment camps and other atrocities.” The CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition called the tweet “absolutely inappropriate and offensive.” Progressives said the post was “disgusting rhetoric” that fit a “consistent pattern” from Michigan Republicans, while Democrats linked the photo to GOP Chairwoman Kristina Karamo, a secretary of state also-ran who has yet to concede her 14-point election loss from November.
“There is no depth to the pit from which Kristina Karamo operates @MIGOP,” state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) tweeted. “Haven’t the victims of the Holocaust suffered enough than to be shamefully exploited in death by this vile post? Anti-semitism thrives when these grotesque distortions of history diminish it.”
If you somehow unwittingly created and posted a Holocaust meme, this is the time to apologize. If you purposefully created and posted a Holocaust meme, this is still the time to apologize. But Karamo did not apologize. Instead, she doubled down.
“We will not be silent as the Democratic Party, the party who fought to enslave Black Americans, and currently fights to murder unborn children, attempt to disarm us,” she said Wednesday in a statement posted to Twitter. she said. “Our 2nd Amendment was put in place to protect us from aspiring tyrants. MIGOP stands by our statement.”
Then she doubled down on doubling down, convening a press conference to defend her defense. She is not afraid of the government! That’s what the Second Amendment is for! Just because she posted a meme comparing gun control to the Holocaust doesn’t mean she was comparing gun control to the Holocaust!
“One of the reasons that I am not afraid of an aspiring tyrant in our government acting out on tyrannical notions is because we have a fully functional Second Amendment,” Karamo told reporters. “Any notion that the Michigan Republican Party drawing comparisons between historical events and the Democrats’ push to disarm the people of Michigan is somehow offensive or bigoted is flat-out dishonest.”
And then she just kept right on talking!
“I say that as a descendant of slaves, and I’m not using my African heritage as a deflection, but as a fact that also I’m part Native American. And we saw what happened in America to the Native Americans,” she said. “They were rounded up and massacred. History has shown us that defenseless people are easy targets for tyrants. And that’s a fact.”
Karamo then proceeded to get into a verbal spat with a rabbi before winding things up by once again refusing to apologize or concede that maybe the post was even slightly inappropriate. This is not your grandma’s Republican Party! This is a much worse version!
“We’re a different Republican Party,” she said. “We are not the Republican Party who apologizes and runs away from our positions. It’s the reason why the Republican Party has gotten kicked in the teeth the last three cycles, because it’s been a party that’s always apologizing. We’re done. We are a party that’s inclusive. We are a party that represents every Michigander, irrespective of any factor about you. I’m here to protect your constitutional rights.”
…What?: Connecticut senators push for federal gun violence prevention office … Missouri legislation seeks to allow guns in places of worship … The big divide over guns and violence plays out in the Oregon Legislature … (Wisconsin) Assembly Republicans push crime bills
From The Newsrooms
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