Republican legislatures across the country have mobilized against the LGBTQ+ community, pushing through bills that would discriminate against them.
In Florida, the Parental Rights in Education bill—more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill—would prohibit any teaching concerning sexual orientation or gender identity “in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” The bill would also grant parents the right to sue teachers and schools for exploring these topics. Its incredibly vague language has those who are not bigoted and support LGBTQ+ equality very worried. Can an LGBTQ+ teacher be sued by a parent if they discuss their personal life? What about a student with LGBTQ+ parents?
Now, Florida Republicans—including Governor Ron DeSantis, a big proponent of the bill—have argued that it would not discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. But a previous version of the bill contained a provision requiring schools to out students to their parents if they found out they were LGBTQ+, and when Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-FL) attempted to amend the bill to only prevent schools from conducting lessons “on human sexuality or sexual activity” so as not to marginalize all LGBTQ+ students and teachers, Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-FL), the bill’s sponsor, argued that such a change would “gut” the bill. (He refused to elaborate.)
“So, it’s pretty clear what he thinks the guts of this legislation are,” said John Oliver on Sunday night. “It’s not about sex at all. It’s about denying the existence of gay people.”
“Now, are they morally bankrupt for doing that? Who’s to say?” asked Oliver, before answering his own question: “I’ll tell you: I am. I am to say. After all, I’m Zazu,” throwing to a picture of the red-billed hornbill he voiced in Disney’s The Lion King remake.
When the news broke that Disney had donated large sums of money to the backers of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Disney CEO Bob Chapek defended the company’s silence on it, issuing the following statement:
“We are telling important stories, raising voices, and I believe, changing hearts and minds. Encanto, Black Panther, Pose, Reservation Dogs, Coco, Soul, Modern Family, Shang-Chi, Summer of Soul, Love, Victor… These and all of our diverse stories are our corporate statements—and they are more powerful than any tweet or lobbying effort. I firmly believe that our ability to tell such stories—and have them received with open eyes, ears, and hearts—would be diminished if our company were to become a political football in any debate.”