Fox News commentator Emily Compagno raised eyebrows on Thursday in her comments about Florida's House Bill 1557, colloquially known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which the Sunshine State's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed into law this past week.
The law bans classroom "instruction" on sexuality and gender from kindergarten to third grade, while allowing only "age-appropriate" or "developmentally appropriate" discussion thereafter. Critics of the bill say it will be unevenly applied to any discussion of LGBTQ issues, while commonplace mentions of heterosexuality and so-called traditional gender dynamics will pass without complaint.
Compagno, a proponent of the bill, insisted that it wasn't discriminatory to LGBTQ people and rejected comparisons to Anita Bryant, the Florida orange spokeswoman who championed a referendum banning LGBTQ teachers in the 70s.
Compagno even emphasized that she and her colleagues were advocates for the protection of transgender people.
"I feel like what we heard was that sort of false equivalency again that's sort of narrated by the left to equate anti-gay legislation of the past—a historically difficult and massively troubling history coming out of Anita Bryant and proponents of the like—with this legislation, which as my colleagues have articulated is simply to protect parental choice in the realm of education for very young children. And unfortunately I think that false notion that those that are for this bill ... that somehow means it is anti-trans. We are all for trans protection. We are also all for parental choice."
First of all, DeSantis' own team has repeated the same talking points used by Anita Bryant to promote California Proposition 6, the referendum which would've banned same-sex teachers in California. Bryant claimed that LGBTQ teachers were secretly trying to "recruit" young children into their so-called lifestyles. Proponents of the bill also emphasized the "civil rights of parents," as Compagno did.
DeSantis' spokeswoman, Christina Pushaw, said less than a month ago that anyone who opposes the bill was likely a "groomer"—someone trying to groom young children to be LGBTQ. Some conservatives have run with her words, beginning to refer to the legislation as the anti-grooming bill, furthering the trope that LGBTQ people somehow need to recruit children.
Second, the idea that Fox News is "all for trans protection" is, quite simply, laughable. One of the network's leading hosts, Tucker Carlson, recently had his Twitter account locked for calling Rachel Levine—the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, who happens to be a transgender woman—a man. A Fox spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Times that Carlson has no plans to delete the tweet that locked his account.
That's one of the most recent instances, but Fox News' tradition of transphobia goes back more than a decade.
Social media users rejected Compagno's absurd declaration.
Some joked that Compagno was referring to something else entirely.
Compagno's comments came on Trans Day of Visibility.