One of the most disturbing aspect of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in primary schools (and according to critics, could be applied to later grades), is the idea that merely acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ+ individuals is somehow inappropriate for children. Obviously, second-grade teachers are not talking to eight-year-olds about sexual intercourse, but you wouldn’t know by listening to conservatives, who apparently believe that anyone who opposes this law is basically advocating for showing kids graphic sexual imagery.
Take, for example Senator Ted Cruz, who recently suggested that because Disney decided to speak out against the bigoted Florida legislation—after receiving backlash from its employees for initially refusing to do so—it’s obviously going to introduce NC-17 story lines to its children’s programming.
In an extremely weird set of remarks, even for him, the Texas lawmaker opined at a live recording of his podcast, Verdict With Ted Cruz: “I think there are people who are misguided, trying to drive, you know, Disney stepping in, saying, you know, in every episode now they’re gonna have, you know, Mickey and Pluto going at it. Like, really? It’s just like, come on guys, these are kids, and you know, you could always shift to Cinemax if you want that. Like, why do you have—it used to be, look, I’m a dad. You used to be able to put your kids on the Disney Channel and be like, alright, something innocuous will happen.”
Setting aside the fact that Cruz—who once blamed a congressional staffer for his Twitter account “liking” a short pornographic video—decided to let people know he turns to Cinemax when he’s looking to have a romantic night in with Little Ted, this kind of absurd fearmongering is straight out of the GOP playbook. Clearly, Disney is not going to depict “Mickey and Pluto going at it,” but it’s this kind of bullshit that results in right-wing conspiracy theorists protesting Disney for supposedly corrupting children. It’s also the kind of thing that opens the door to blatant homophobia, and the idea, pushed lately by Republicans, that talking about the mere existence of LGBTQ+ individuals is synonymous with “grooming” and being “pro-pedophile.” (On the podcast, Cruz initially argued that conservatives shouldn’t use the “groomer” attack “lightly,” and it should be reserved for actual pedophiles, before seemingly getting distracted by the desire to misleadingly attack Disney.) Naturally, Cruz doesn’t appear to have had a problem with the many hypersexualized (but straight) Disney characters of years past. (You’ll have to leave that to Mike Pence, who famously took issue with Mulan normalizing women in the military because it could lead to…sex in the barracks???)
In other “Don’t Say Gay” news, Florida governor Ron DeSantis—last seen using children as props while signing an antiabortion bill—has stepped up his war on Disney for having the audacity to speak out against the harmful legislation. Per Politico: