A misleading CNN fact-check related to the Parental Rights in Education bill is being used by some in the Florida statewide media to promote incomplete information related to Governor DeSantis’s rationale for the legislation.
The fact-check – which was published last week – notes that “On several occasions since signing the bill into law, DeSantis has highlighted the story of a woman named January Littlejohn, a registered Republican, who says she was not fully consulted about the school’s gender-affirming plan for her child.”
CNN cites the fact that Ms. Littleljohn initially told school officials in an email “that she would not stop her child from using preferred pronouns or name of choice at school” as being inconsistent with the DeSantis statement that the school did not get the mother’s consent to address her daughter’s gender identity issues.
However, what the CNN analysis does not include is the fact that Leon County school officials went beyond Ms. Littlejohn’s initial consent – related to pronouns and name choice – and initiated an interview with their child as part of a “Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Student Support Plan.”
Initiating the plan was part of the guidance sanctioned by the Leon County school district at the time.
On page two of the nine-page “Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Student Support Plan,” the interviewer noted that the parents were not aware of their child’s gender transition and the interviewer wrote that the issue should be kept from the parents. See below.
When questioned about the interview and support plan, school officials told the Littlejohns they were not required to be notified of the intervention based on state law and Leon County School (LCS) guidance.
These actions are consistent with DeSantis’s statement at the press conference describing the rationale for the bill. DeSantis said, “But to do these things behind the parents’ back and to say that the parents should be shut out, that is wrong.”
It is also consistent with the provision in the bill which says school employees “may not discourage or prohibit parental notification of and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical” health.
The incomplete CNN fact-check has been promoted by statewide media, giving ammunition to those who oppose the bill.
For example, Orlando Sentinel‘s Scott Maxwell tweeted the fact-check on the same day it was published. And Florida House Representative Anna Eskamani – a staunch opponent of the bill – tweeted in reply, “Governor DeSantis lied to promote a bigoted and unnecessary bill? No way!”
It should also be noted that Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna verbally changed the school district guidance incorporated in the “Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Student Support Plan” before the Parental Rights in Education bill was signed into law.
Reprinted with permission from The Florida Capital Star