Way to pull one from the old-school book of stereotypes, Christina Pushaw.
With Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature poised to pass a deeply homophobic “Don’t Say Gay” bill this week, the spokeswoman for GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the public to know that any opposition to a measure that’s already prompted mass protests and walkouts at schools across the state probably just means that you’re a literal pedophile.
DeSantos flak Christina Pushaw, fresh off her recent stint running interference for a literal Nazi rally, defended the profoundly anti-LGBTQ+ bill this weekend, insisting that “if you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer, or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8-year-old children.”
Pushaw didn’t deign to follow up her allegation of pedophilia with any sort of explanation as to how opposing the bill constituted grooming or the approval thereof. As written, the measure — officially “H.B. 1557: Parental Rights In Education” — essentially criminalizes lessons mentioning non-cis or heteronormative genders and sexuality in elementary school classes up through third grade, as well as requires schools to notify parents of certain health services. It also expands legal avenues for parents to target schools for failures to comply.
“If passed, [the bill] would effectively erase entire chapters of history, literature, and critical health information in schools — and silence LGBTQ students and those with LGBTQ parents or family members,” activist and Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley and Equality Florida Senior Political Director Joe Saunders wrote in a recent CNN essay on the bill. They also decried the conservative tactic of using “LGBTQ youth as political pawns to limit conversations about gender and sexual identity.”
Pushaw’s frantic attempt to justify an overtly homophobic bill as simply protecting children from pedophiles — a longstanding tactic of anti-gay hate groups — earned immediate condemnation from Florida Democrats, including state Sen. Shev Jones, the first LGBTQ+ person elected to the Florida Senate. Jones has been one of the most strident voices against the bill.
LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Florida was less circumspect in its criticism of Pushaw, writing in a statement:
Gov. DeSantis’s spokesperson said the quiet part out loud: that this bill is grounded in a belief that LGBTQ people, simply by existing, are a threat to children and must be erased. He chose Pushaw to speak his mind to the public. He owns this unbridled hatred.
“Make no mistake,” the group continued. “This is a tacit announcement from the governor that he supports the true intent of the Don’t Say Gay bill: the erasure of LGBTQ people.”
DeSantis, who backs the bill, defended it Monday as having been “misrepresented” in the press. But if he’s really worried about how the media frames the measure, perhaps he should have a word with the woman he’s hired to help do just that — unless, that is, he doesn’t actually disagree with her at all.