The Republican front-runner for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat, Corey Stewart, boasts that he strives to “offend at least one liberal” every day, but his latest attack on LGBTQ youth is just sad for how factually wrong it is.
On Tuesday, Stewart shared a Facebook post lashing out at the “lunatic left” for not allowing parents to opt kids out of public school classes that teach “sodomy.” His comment accompanied a graphic that said, “Sorry bigot, sodomy is now a mandatory course” and a screenshot of a Daily Caller headline suggesting California parents can’t pull kids out of a new “LGBT sex ed class.”
The article in the graphic was written by Daily Caller Entertainment Reporter Katie Jerkovich, who took a break from covering the latest Kardashian gossip to distort a story out of Orange County, where the schools are enforcing a 2015 law called the California Healthy Youth Act. The law addresses what is taught in sex education and also mandates education about LGBTQ identities, which some Orange County parents objected to.
The Orange County School Board responded to those objections with legal guidance making clear that parents do, in fact, have the right to opt their kids out of any class that might discuss comprehensive sexual health education or HIV education. But if a particular class isn’t actually discussing human reproductive organs and their functions, parents can not opt their kids out of classes for discussing topics like “gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation, relationships, or family.”
So the whole “controversy” is specifically about parents who don’t want their kids taught about who LGBTQ people are and why they shouldn’t bully their classmates for being LGBTQ — not “sodomy.”
But it’s easy to see how the fake news escalated. Jerkovich, citing a Red State article, claims that the “state-approved ‘tool kit'” for the course includes topics about “lubricants, anal sex, and sex toys.” But the author of that RedState piece, Orange County resident Kira Davis, seemingly just found a random “Sexual Health Tool Kit,” one that is actually designed for health care providers who work with adolescents, not sex educators. Contrary to Jerkovich’s description, it is not included on the California Department of Education’s list of sexual health resources.
Stewart is apparently quite susceptible to fake news stories that reinforce his prejudices. On Saturday, he also shared a One America News report claiming that a proposed ban on ex-gay conversion therapy in California would somehow ban the Bible. It’s unclear Stewart even understood what the bill was designed to do, because he instead somehow connected it to one of his true passions, protecting Confederate monuments. “Destroying and moving statues will lead to the shredding of the Constitution with bans on books,” he wrote.
The most recent poll showed Stewart with an advantage over the other Senate candidates in the Republican primary, but 66 percent of respondents had not yet formed an opinion.