MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2023
Be careful what you're sure of: If only in the political realm, Maryland isn't Florida.
In the political realm, Maryland is reliably blue. For example, this is the way Maryland voted in the 2020 election:
Maryland, presidential vote, 2020 election
Joe Biden (D): 65.4%
Donald J. Trump (R): 32.2%
Two years later, here's the way Maryland voted in elections for its eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives:
Maryland, U.S. House elections, 2022:
Democratic candidates: 64.7%
Republican candidates: 34.6%
On the basis of that (roughly) 2-ro-1 statewide vote, Democrats won seven of the state's eight House seats. Please don't ask how we did it!
Long story short, Maryland is one of our bluest states. Within that context, we want to show you a somewhat sobering passage from a recent report in the Washington Post.
Nicole Asbury's lengthy report concerned a debate within the Montgomery County (Md.) Public Schools, one of the nation's largest school systems. Headline included, the report begins like this:
Some Montgomery parents want to opt out of new books featuring LGBTQ characters
Earlier this school year, Maryland’s largest school district revised its curriculum to include a new reading list of books with young LGBTQ characters in an effort to be more inclusive, but the reading list is getting pushback from some families who argue that Montgomery County Public Schools should allow an opt-out policy so their children won’t have to read the books or participate in lessons about them.
The reading list introduced several new books for students in prekindergarten to eighth grade that feature LGBTQ characters as part of the school system’s English language arts curriculum. The books include “My Rainbow”—a story about a mom who makes a wig for her transgender daughter—and “Love Violet”—a picture book about a shy young girl who mulls over how to give a Valentine to her crush, a girl in her class named Mira.
The stories on the list were recommended by a group of parents, community members, students and staff members, and the books were vetted by a committee of five staff members. Each book was posted online for parents to review...
Asbury continued from there, discussing the nuts and bolts of what is now a familiar type of dispute.
Along the way, Asbury described Montgomery County as "a liberal D.C. suburb," which it basically is. That said, uh-oh! At one point, she included this possibly surprising passage concerning a recent statewide survey:
ASBURY (4/11/23): A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in October found that a majority of Maryland voters support teachers discussing acceptance of LGBTQ people in middle school and high school grades, but views diverge about elementary school grade levels. By more than 2 to 1 (66 percent to 30 percent), more registered voters said it is inappropriate rather than appropriate for teachers to discuss acceptance of LGBTQ people with students in kindergarten through third grade. For students in grades four and five, 40 percent of voters say the discussions are appropriate, and 56 percent say it is inappropriate.
Yes, it's only one survey. And yes, the question posed to respondents was a bit strangely worded:
QUESTION: "Do you think it is appropriate or inappropriate for Maryland public school teachers to discuss acceptance of LGBTQ people with students in kindergarten through third grade?"
Those observations apply! But by a margin of 66 percent to 30 percent, voters in the blue state of Maryland seemed to align with something resembling the type of restriction found in the state of Florida's original "Don't Say Gay" bill.
That result may seem surprising. We offer a type of political warning:
Be careful what you're sure of.
Within our own blue tribe, Florida's provision along these lines has been attacked, and sometimes perhaps a bit distorted, with gusto, from Day One. Especially at a time when news orgs are increasingly segregated by viewpoint, you may have seen and heard little pushback, even little nuanced pushback, to such characterizations.
Be careful what you're sure of! Rightly or wrongly, voter sentiment may not always align with the tribally pleasing impressions you're given by our blue tribe's cable news tribunes. Indeed, here's a passage from Asbury's original report about that survey of Maryland voters:
ASBURY (10/12/22): ...A separate nationwide poll by the University of Southern California found a similar pattern, with about 6 in 10 Americans saying high school students should learn about topics related to gender identity or sexual orientation, compared with fewer than 3 in 10 saying the same for elementary school students.
Asbury may be inclined to offer the good news first. But concerning the elementary grades, there you see a similar pattern emerging in a nationwide survey, with "fewer than 3 in 10 [respondents] saying" that grade school kids "should learn about topics related to gender identity or sexual orientation."
Stating the obvious, none of this means that that view is "right." Beyond that, other surveys may show something different.
That said, we live in a time when tribal tribunes are eager to tell us the things we want to hear. Such tribunes may not know what we need, but they do seem to know what we want.
One last gloomy point:
We recently watched a certain Florida governor giving a speech in the state of Iowa. We were shocked by how politically mainstream many of his talking points seemed.
From that, we drew an important conclusion. As in 1980, so too today:
Be careful what you feel sure of! What you feel sure of (on a political basis) won't always turn out to be right!