Fox News host Jeanine Pirro has claimed that teachers nationwide want to turn kids transgender, an increasingly common right-wing claim that has set parents and anti-LGBTQ activists against public educators.
In a recent installment of the Fox News talk program The Five, Pirro said that the midterm elections would continue a Democrat-led downward slide against free speech, aided by “Big Tech.”
She then added, “If the Republicans don’t win, then it will be a threat to democracy because it will be the end of education, where teachers believe they should be able to trans our kids and talk about 1619 without our knowing about it.”
She also said that Democrats apparently want “one-party rule” because of their “continued degradation of anyone who isn’t a Democrat.”
Pirro’s claim that teachers want to “trans our kids” sounds ridiculous, but it’s increasingly common among right-wingers. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has repeatedly said that Democrats and teachers want to turn children gay and make other students identify as trans.
Other right-wing figures and parents have also claimed that schools try to indoctrinate kids into LGBTQ identity. They say that educators’ willingness to respect trans students’ chosen names and pronouns has been used to force impressionable kids into prematurely accepting trans identities without parental knowledge — even though such actions can’t turn otherwise cisgender children transgender.
The conspiracy theory of educators turning kids trans rests upon several old conservative falsehoods. Foremost is the idea that LGBTQ people recruit young people to grow their numbers for political power. Second, conservatives have engaged outraged citizens and turned them into a powerful voting bloc by claiming that schools are taking away parental rights by teaching kids things that parents object to, things like LGBTQ identity and so-called critical race theory (CRT).
This second claim not only demonizes efforts at inclusive education but also encourages angry parents and conservatives to harass local educators, making their jobs and lives even harder. Many Republicans have demonized public education as a way to promote private and charter schools as a more attractive (and lucrative) alternative.
Pirro’s mention of “1619” refers to The 1619 Project, a history curriculum based on an award-winning journalism project that asks students to examine U.S. culture through the foundational legacy of slavery.
Republicans have opposed the curriculum as a form of CRT which, Republicans say, teaches kids to hate themselves and each other because of their racial identities. Supporters of anti-racist curriculum say it’s important to combat the nation’s unnoticed and enduring culture of white supremacy.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and other conservatives nationwide have used the bogeyman of CRT and LGBTQ-inclusive education to mobilize voters into the Republican Party. Fox News’ perpetuation of this rhetoric demonstrates its continued potency as a conservative attack on progressive educational values.
Jeanine Pirro: Teachers want to "trans our kids" pic.twitter.com/hDwU9MvcsJ
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) November 7, 2022