WaPo Pinnochios Karine Jean-Pierre False Claim about Florida’s ‘Dystopian’ Education Law

The Washington Post gave Karine Jean-Pierre “Two Pinnochios” recently when the White House Press secretary falsely claimed that under Florida law, gay teachers could not have pictures of their same-sex partners in the classroom.


Jean-Pierre claimed that under the Parental Rights in Education Act, which has been infamously branded the “Don’t Say Gay Bill by its detractors, teachers would have to take pictures of same-sex spouses off the desk.

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“Teachers in Florida have already faced the devastating consequences of the existing law. Under threat of having their licenses revoked, gay teachers have been forced to take down pictures of their spouses from their desks and censor their classroom materials. Censoring our classes is not how public education is supposed to work in a free country. Conservative politicians love to complain about the so-called cancel culture, all while threatening teachers with losing their jobs if they teach something that the MAGA extremists don’t agree with.”

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler pointed out that  Jean-Pierre’s claim, which was presented as undisputed fact, was actually “in dispute. What’s more, he made clear that many readers, presumably some from Florida, “believed that to be incorrect.”

Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Kessler from pointing out there’s nothing in the Florida law permitting the removal of photos.

“The state, in a legal filing, said it does not ban photos, and a county that suggested a ban was in place quickly reversed itself. That would indicate at least Three Pinocchios. At the same time, the practical effect of the law appears to discourage teachers from displaying photos of loved ones, given the hassles encountered by Lindquist and Payne. That tips us toward Two,”

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However, Kessler also noted that two teachers have claimed to have been hassled for having pictures of their same-sex spouses in the classroom.

Though Lindquist and Payne faced investigations regarding parental complaints over discussing or displaying images of their significant others, neither one lost their licenses.

Kessler explained that following a legal filing from the LGBTQ rights organization Equality Florida, the group that released a bogus travel warning about the Sunshine State. In that 2022 filing, the state explicitly emphasized that photos are unrelated to the education law.

Kessler explained that this fact directly contradicts Jean-Pierre’s claims.

“Jean-Pierre erred by flatly saying that the law — ‘under threat of losing their licenses’ — forces teachers to remove photos that indicate they have same-sex partners. Florida, in fact, denied that was the case in a legal filing nearly a year ago,”

Regardless of these reports that could theoretically and indirectly be related to the bill, Kessler said that the statement was a “complicated issue” that’s still officially unclear, so he only rated the claim two out of four Pinocchios.

But Kessler re-asserted that this was no excuse for the press secretary’s misrepresentation of the facts, as direct parental concern was the cause of the complaints.

“The White House press secretary would have been on more solid ground if she had emphasized that some teachers have said the law has had a chilling effect and that they have taken down photos to avoid getting into trouble. Lindquist and Payne recounted how a photo of their loved one prompted a question from curious students — typical of the give-and-take in classroom instruction — which eventually led to parental complaints. So while the photo itself may be permitted under the law, the teacher got into trouble because a photo was seen by students, prompting a discussion that briefly touched on same-sex relationships”

But, it should be noted this is far from the first time Jean-Pierre has misrepresented this Florida law.

Other stories you may want to read:

Florida LGBTQ Group Slammed for Issuing Bogus Travel Advisory Over DeSantis Policies

Biden Vows to ‘Finish the Job’ in 2024, Polls Show Americans Don’t Want Him To

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