Teachers' Union President Says Parental Rights Laws Are 'the Way in Which Wars Start' Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. (Paul Morigi/Getty Images for MomsRising Together)
By Nicole Wells | Friday, 22 April 2022 01:40 PM
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten claims that legislation like Florida's Parental Rights in Education Act is "the way in which wars start."
During a recent appearance on "The Rick Smith Show," Weingarten said that parents concerned about gender identity and sexual orientation being taught in public schools are being manipulated by special interest groups seeking to dismantle public education and privatize the U.S. education system.
"We are in an existential threat race against these right-wing extremists who are trying to exploit people's agitation for their own political purposes," she said. "That's why they are trying to silence and put back into the closet people who may be gay or trans."
"This is propaganda," Weingarten added. "This is misinformation. This is the way in which wars start."
The country's most well-known teachers' union, the AFT has been an outspoken, frequent critic of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican school legislation, accusing the party of overstepping its boundaries and hamstringing teachers.
Inaccurately dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" law by critics, Florida's new parental rights legislation bans classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for students in kindergarten through third grade.
"Imagine, if you had a trans kid right now, and you were in Texas, and you were trying to protect your kid, and the lieutenant governor was trying to bring you up on charges because you were trying to protect your kid," Weingarten said. "How is that parental rights?"
In February, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered that state children's services agents investigate parents of trans children for child abuse for providing them with gender-affirming care, such as puberty-blocking hormones or surgical procedures.
Last month, Weingarten was criticized for a series of mistakes made while expressing support for Ukraine.
Misspelling the nation's name as "Ukriane," the error came as the teachers' union was blasted on social media for promoting a now-deleted tweet in which the Ukrainian flag was depicted upside down.
Representing the blue sky over a field of wheat, Ukraine's flag features a blue horizontal band on top of a yellow horizontal one. In the photo posted by the AFT, however, the colors were reversed, with the yellow band on top of the blue one.
Maintaining that measures like Florida's parental rights law promote "fear of the other," Weingarten brought the discussion back around to politics.
"Elections really matter this year," Weingarten said. "Hopefully, people are going to be voting on these kinds of issues."