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The conservative movement has a parenting problem. We need to talk about it.

The Republican Party claims it's pro-parents while pushing policies that are clearly harmful to children. Make it make sense.


Across the country, conservative propaganda is helping sell the Republican Party's claim that it's pro-parents.

Policies that would bar educators from teaching American history accurately or prohibit lessons on gender and sexual orientation are just some of the goals conservatives claim are a boon to parents. 

But these GOP policies and a host of others are obviously anti-children, and I often wonder why they’re not more widely condemned in media for their inevitable harm to America’s kids.

In that way, this majorly white group is dodging condemnation Black parents often receive in the media: claims that they're unfit parents.

That needs to change. It’s white conservatives who have a parenting problem. 

For example, the GOP-led Florida Legislature passed a bill last week that would outlaw schools from teaching kids up to third grade about gender identity and sexual orientation. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he will sign the bill, which he claimed will ensure his kids aren’t “sexualized.” Conservatives throughout the country are pushing similar laws.  

But the purpose of those lessons isn’t to “sexualize” children. These lesson plans teach kids about the existence of gender as an identifier and encourage tolerance regardless of one’s gender or the people to whom they’re attracted. Conservatives have children — yes, LGBTQ children, too — who deserve to know the real world includes people of various genders who are worthy of respect and love. Denying that fact doesn’t make it any less true, but it does ensure many kids will grow up as paranoid and deluded about these topics as the people passing these laws.

Photo Illustration: A baby elephant gets left behind by its parent
MSNBC / Getty Images

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, was in a similar situation Monday. Reeves signed a bill he said targeted critical race theory, the college-level field of study conservatives cite to fear-monger about school lessons on racism. Critical race theory is not usually taught in K-12 public schools.

Reeves claimed such lessons “humiliate and indoctrinate” kids. The bill he signed bars schools from teaching “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”

Of course, one can safely assume lesson plans about racial inequality aren't claiming that any race is inherently inferior or superior. They teach racial tolerance while addressing the history of white supremacy in America. 

Denying this is harmful, too. Kids — white, conservative ones included — would benefit from learning about our increasingly diverse country and the ways it has historically benefited some groups at the expense of others. Ignoring this won’t stop the justifiable demands for racial equality; it will just ensure many kids grow up mystified, confused and angered about them. 

Conservative neglect for children doesn’t end in the classroom. Conservative lawmakers’ obsession with fossil fuels is actively worsening the environment American children will one day be forced to live in. And their opposition to social welfare policies like the child tax credit have dragged millions of children into poverty, as I’ve written in the past

The conservative movement has had ample opportunity to show it cares about kids. It’s time we all acknowledge its repeated failures on that front.