From curricula to library books to teachers themselves, queer expression and education in U.S. public schools are being slowly but surely outlawed. One of the most severe cases of this degeneration of rights is in Florida under the rule of perennial mess Ron DeSantis.
The governor signed what’s likely the country’s most notorious anti-LGBTQ curriculum bill into law last year, commonly referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
This week, he doubled down on his disdain for LGBTQ+ education of any sort, referring to its inclusion as “indoctrination” and “a political agenda”.
This latest denouncement came after being asked why his administration had rejected the curriculum for an advanced placement African American Studies course.
The offending material? A section on “queer theory”:
When asked about the AP African American studies course that was banned in Florida, Ron DeSantis goes in a homophobic rant that includes railing against intersectionality while doing his best Trump impression. This is about banning ideas he doesn’t like, plain and simple. pic.twitter.com/3PCVwctHPY
— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) January 23, 2023
“This course on Black History, what’s one of the lessons about? Queer theory!” he exclaims. “Queer theory” is the widely accepted academic name for the field of LGBTQ+ studies, so the way he managed to make it still sound like a slur is kind of amazing.
His next question to the room proved his lack of understanding of both Black and LGBTQ+ people, ignoring the existence of a whole category of humans in one sentence:
“Now who would say that an important part of Black History is ‘queer theory’?” he asks incredulously.
Let’s think for a moment! Would Martin Luther King Jr.’s close advisor Bayard Rustin say so? How about women like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith who helped create the genre of blues music? Do James Baldwin and Audre Lorde not exist in Black History to Florida?
This examination of the intersection of identities and how they interplay in culture and history is exactly the kind of knowledge DeSantis and co. want to keep from the nation’s youth.
“That is somebody pushing an agenda on our kids,” he rails. “When you look to see they have stuff about intersectionality, abolishing prisons — that’s a political agenda. That’s the wrong side of the line for Florida standards.”
Discussing Black history without discussing the way Black people continue to be disproportionately incarcerated seems to also be a big no-no to the governor. Makes sense coming from the governor of the state with the third highest number of inmates in the country.
“When you try to use Black history to shoehorn in queer theory,” he continues, “you are clearly trying to use that for political purposes.”
Throughout all this attempting to cover up historical figures and contributions, he firmly asserts that he’s still here for “cut-and-dry history”.
“You learn all the basics, you learn about the great figures,” he contradicts. “I view it as American history. I don’t view it as separate history. We have history of a lot of different shapes and sizes.”
He closes by very vaguely advocating for the teaching of “people that have participated to make the country great and people that have stood up when it wasn’t easy.” The unabridged facts of who stood up and against what aren’t as important to him as making sure the LGBTQ+ community isn’t among them.