Parental rights bill signed by Florida governor, while conservatives at Disney note a climate of political fear

Gov. Ron DeSantis Monday signed Florida’s historic parental-rights bill protecting kids in grades K-3 from sexual and gender instruction in schools.

The bill has inspired mania on the left, and even at Disney, with some erroneously calling it a “Don’t Say Gay” law. In truth, the Parental Rights in Education bill prohibits explicit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity only through third grade, and authorizes such “age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate” instruction afterward.

Parents “should be protected from schools using classroom instruction to sexualize their kids as young as 5 years old,” DeSantis said in a press release, adding the bill “empowers Florida’s parents and safeguards our children.”

The bill requires policies that “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children in a specified manner.” It directs schools to notify parents of changes in a student’s “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,” and prohibits schools from withholding that information from parents.

In some areas of the country, this crucial information has indeed been kept from parents of even the youngest of schoolchildren. During Austin Independent School District’s “Pride Week,” for example, students were told, “What we say in this room stays in this room.”

“Parents play the No. 1 role in a child’s life,” Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a statement, “and I am thankful for the governor, legislature and so many parents who continue to stand up for parents’ rights to be the foremost authority involving their children.”

Disney is taking flak from the left and the right – from liberals for opposing the parental rights bill too late, and from conservatives for opposing it at all. Conservatives at Disney wrote an anonymous open letter opposing the company’s increasing left-wing activism, saying it has created a climate in which they fear professional reprisal for being considered conservative.

“The Walt Disney Company has come to be an increasingly uncomfortable place to work for those of us whose political and religious views are not explicitly progressive,” the letter reads. “We watch quietly as our beliefs come under attack from our own employer, and we frequently see those who share our opinions condemned as villains by our own leadership. …

“The company we love seems to think we don’t exist or don’t belong here. … Disney shouldn’t be a vehicle for one demographic’s political activism.”

The conservative employees merely ask the company to be politically neutral.

Despite that, Disney stated its continued opposition to the parental rights bill after DeSantis signed it, writing, “We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

The statement did not address the company’s support for parental rights.

“Parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, and schools should not be keeping important information from parents,” Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson said in a statement. “Children belong to families, not the state. Parents are not the enemy. They are a child’s first and best advocate.”