Don’t say “Don’t Say Gay.” As inane as it sounds, that is the latest right-wing attack on LGBT folks.
In the middle of the fight is South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Scott Travis.
It began when he linked to a story about how the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that just became law on July 1 but was already causing problems and confusion in Florida schools. Technically, the name of the law is Parental Rights in Education, but has become known as “Don’t Say Gay” -- much the same way the Affordable Care Act is ubiquitously known as Obamacare.
But this time, right-wingers are having none of it.
Travis’ Twitter account blew up with comments from conservatives, including one from Trump shadow advisor Stephen Miller that reads, “That’s not the name of the law.” Rather than ignore the comments section, Travis engaged, tweeting back: “That’s why it’s in quotes. But the name recognition for “don’t say gay” among the public is far higher than the bill’s actual name. It’s a good lesson in marketing/branding.”
That’s all it took for the right to declare a “Gotcha!” moment. Miller responded, “The lie is good and journalists will use it if it’s branded well. You know, this is a good lesson.” Travis shot back, “Not just journalists. The name stuck.”
FOX News and their reporter Gabriel Hays then turned the conversation into a national news story with a salacious headline: "Journalist admits false 'Don’t Say Gay Bill' label is just great ‘branding’, gets savaged on Twitter."
The law in question prohibits any discussion of sexual orientation in Florida classrooms in early grades, and opponents began using the “Don’t Say Gay” moniker in stories as the bill was making its way through the legislature.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ press secretary, Christine Pushaw, also weighed in. She posted a screenshot of the Travis/Miller exchange with the caption, “Senior Journalist at @SunSentinel.”
Travis, who is openly gay, has been with the Sun Sentinel since 1999 and has been on the education beat for years. After the Parkland school shooting, he was part of the team that was given the Pulitzer Prize for their coverage. When asked for his reaction to how the story suddenly involved him, he told SFGN, “A lot of people have different views about this new law and how the media have covered it. It was interesting to see how that played out on social media.”
Students who organized protests and were vocal on social media against “Don’t Say Gay” were shouted down and called names by Pushaw.
As for the fate of the law, it is being challenged in court. It’s already being copied by other states, including a version in Tennessee that would ban all discussion of LGBT issues, history, or its existence, through and including high school.