During the March 8 edition of his prime-time Fox News show, Tucker Carlson asserted that teachers who talk to kids about gender identity “should be arrested” and “beaten up.” Carlson also lied and fearmongered about best-practice medical care for transgender youth, falsely claiming, “Physicians all over the country are violating the most elemental medical ethics by prescribing puberty blockers and hormone treatments to minors.”
Carlson made this call for violence while defending Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity between kindergarten and third grade and allow parents to sue school districts for failing to follow these provisions. The state Senate and House have both passed the measure, which is officially known as the “Parental Rights in Education Bill,” and it is now heading to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for his signature. In February, DeSantis signaled that he would support the bill.
Numerous LGBTQ and civil rights organizations and the White House have condemned the bill, with the Human Rights Campaign’s state legislative director saying, “The Florida state legislature is playing a dangerous political game with the health and safety of LGBTQ+ kids.” According to a 2021 research report from The Trevor Project, “LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in classes at school had 23% lower odds of reporting a suicide attempt in the past 12 months.” It is also crucial to note that discussing the existence of LGBTQ people is not the same as discussing sex or sexual health.
What’s more, gender-affirming medical care for trans youth is accepted as a safe, effective, and lifesaving treatment that is widely supported by medical professionals and yields dramatic mental health benefits.
Carlson also ignored the experiences of LGBTQ youth and falsely claimed that talking to children about LGBTQ issues is “sexual abuse.” In reality, research shows that trans children sense their gender identities at a young age. According to the American Psychological Association, “Children usually have a sense of their gender identity between age 2 to 5 and they typically become cognizant of their sexual orientation around age 9 or 10, although this self-awareness is occurring at earlier ages, particularly as it is a topic more widely discussed and available to younger children.”
The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh joined Carlson during the segment and said that the bill will prevent people from grooming “young children.” Walsh’s fearmongering about grooming plays off of the right-wing hoax that LGBTQ people support sexual predators or pedophiles. DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw previously made similar accusations on Twitter while defending the new legislation, saying, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children.”