Conservative-leaning news outlets parroted liberal activist language in headlines to describe a Florida bill banning lessons on sexuality and gender ideology for young children.
The phrase “Don’t Say Gay,” which was used by LGBT activists since at least 2012, was mainstreamed by corporate media in February and eventually picked up by conservative outlets to describe Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill.
The legislation, which does not ban the word gay in schools or anywhere else, bars teachers from discussing sexuality and gender identity with children in kindergarten through third grade and requires parental consent for health services offered in schools. Students in fourth grade and higher will still be able to have age-appropriate lessons on gender and sexuality.
It also blocks schools from imposing rules that prevent teachers from notifying parents about services offered to children that impact their physical, mental or emotional health, with exceptions in place for instances of potential child abuse.
Newsmax published “WH Denounces Florida GOP Over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill” Feb. 8, and the Daily Caller published “SNL Rips Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill” March 6.
Upcoming Disney roller coasters might be delayed amid protests over 'Don't Say Gay' billhttps://t.co/exejvz22cG
— Fox News (@FoxNews) March 24, 2022
The Washington Examiner, Fox Business and the New York Post also used “Don’t Say Gay” uncritically in their headlines.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek breaks silence on Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill https://t.co/ZftDNZEbFr pic.twitter.com/pSc50wL9cW
— New York Post (@nypost) March 7, 2022
Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, discussed the importance of language in shaping public opinion in comments to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“It is always important to look at how a question is worded when evaluating a public opinion survey,” she said. “I rarely comment on polls on a news story until I have been able to compare several polls with different question wordings.”
The legislation was signed into law by DeSantis Monday.
Newsmax, the Washington Examiner, Fox Business and the New York Post did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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