An incident in Hernando County, Florida was the subject of a recent SunBund report on this here blog. It involved a radical right-wing school board member, “Moms for Liberty” GOP operative Shannon Rodriguez, who ratted out her kid’s fifth-grade teacher for showing students a Disney movie that had a gay character. There was national coverage of the controversy, just the latest embarrassment for Florida.
Earlier this week, Hernando County held its first school board meeting since it was put under that harsh spotlight. So many people showed up that the meeting spanned more than eight hours to give those who wanted to speak a chance to state their case.
Although hard-right instigators put out cattle-calls that drew out-of-county wingnuts (including the inexplicably Proud Boys), the emerging consensus is that the community is fed up with right-wing, god-bothering, DeSantis sycophants attacking their teachers and administrators.
And keep in mind that Hernando is a deeply conservative county that is more than 90% white and voted for Trump over Biden by 30 points in 2020 and DeSantis over Crist by 40 points in 2022. So it’s not just the libs who are sick of the “Moms for Liberty” busybodies.
A WaPo column describes the Hernando County school board meeting (gift link):
The scene featured teachers pointedly declaring that right-wing attacks are driving them to quit, even as parents and students forcefully stood up on their behalf, demanding a halt to the hysteria…
At the meeting, right-wing parents and a minority of the school board amplified the usual attacks: Pornography in classrooms, indoctrination, wokeness. Watching them, it was impossible to avoid the sense that they were relishing every second of the tumult they’ve unleashed…
But the real story of the night was the response. Again and again, parents and students forcefully defended teachers. They cast the right’s attacks, the censoring of educators and the removal of books as the real threats to education…
Just as a car wreck commands attention, the ugliness of right-wing culture-warring often transfixes the news media. But another story is beckoning: Ordinary parents everywhere and their elected representatives are responding, and declaring that they’ve had enough.
The article also outlines pushback happening in other states, and the authors are right — we need to hear more about the parents, teachers, administrators and elected officials who are fed up with this bullshit and fighting back! The backlash is organic, in sharp contrast to the astroturfed GOP “Moms for Liberty” nitwits.
There’s already a teacher shortage in Florida, and these unhinged attacks are driving more people out of the profession. The teacher Rodriguez targeted about the Disney movie has already resigned. At the meeting, the county’s teachers union president said nearly 50 more are planning to resign. Hernando County math teacher Alyssa Marano, who is also resigning, said this to the crowd:
“No one is teaching your kids to be gay. Sometimes, they just are gay. I have math to teach. I literally don’t have time to teach your kids to be gay.”
The response in Hernando County is incredibly heartening. Even though my kid is grown and the “Moms for Liberty” political operatives aren’t targeting our local schools yet, I plan to show up at every school board meeting. I hope people nationwide who are disgusted by these deranged attacks on our schools are prepared to do the same.
It’s up to us to stand up to these fascist bullies. They are not the majority, and the only way they win is when we don’t show up. So let’s show up and chase these fanatics right back under their rocks.