The Christian Post's top 10 news stories of 2022 (part 1)

Jennifer Pippin, president of the Indian River County chapter of Moms for Liberty, attends Jacqueline Rosario's campaign event in Vero Beach, Florida on October 16, 2022. | Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images

7. Parental rights in education

Concerns about the presence of LGBT ideology and other concerning material in public schools loomed large in 2022, with state legislators and voters taking action to assert parental rights across the United States. 

In Florida, the Republican-controlled legislature approved a Parental Rights in Education measure derided by critics as the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

Signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, House Bill 1557 prevents school officials from discussing matters related to sexual orientation and gender identity with students in kindergarten through third grade. 

The measure also requires schools to inform parents about changes to their children's mental, physical or emotional health and prevents schools from withholding information from parents. The latter provision stems from concerns about schools working to hide their children's gender identity from parents, as has happened in the case of Florida parent January Littlejohn

While polling suggests provisions of the law were popular among voters, the law prompted considerable backlash from progressives, the mainstream media, and even the Walt Disney Company. The Disney World theme park is a major tourist attraction and employer in the state.

The company's initial decision to decline to take a position on the matter led to outrage among some of its employees and LGBT activists. In response, Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized and rallied behind an effort to oppose the legislation in Florida and similar legislation in other states. 

Following Disney's activism against House Bill 1557, the Florida legislature passed a bill to strip special privileges away from Disney that allows Disney World to essentially operate as a self-governing entity exempt from the rules and regulations other theme parks in the state find themselves subject to. 

After re-assuming his old job as Disney CEO following Chapek's ouster, new company head Bob Iger expressed regret that the company became embroiled in political controversy. Florida looks poised to reverse the law that would abolish Disney's self-governing privileges. 

In addition to actions taken at the state level, advocacy groups worked to ensure changes at the local level.

The 1776 Project PAC, a political action committee "dedicated to electing school board members nationwide who want to reform our public education system by promoting patriotism and pride in American history," saw candidates it supported achieve widespread success in certain states at multiple times of the year. 

1776 Project PAC founder Ryan Girdusky told CP that slightly less than half of the candidates it endorsed emerged victorious in races that took place concurrently with the November general election.

All of the candidates the 1776 Project PAC endorsed in school board races in Texas in the spring of 2022 emerged victorious. 

Over the summer, candidates supported by the 1776 Project PAC flipped five school boards in heavily populated areas of Florida from majority progressive to majority conservative as most of the candidates it supported in the state as a whole won their races.

The August elections resulted in Miami-Dade County, home to the city of Miami and the most populous county in the state, becoming the largest county in the U.S. to have a "conservative school board majority," according to Girdusky. 

The advocacy group "Moms for Liberty" also endorsed school board candidates in the November general election. Their preferred candidates, which frequently but not exclusively overlapped with those supported by the 1776 Project PAC, had about a 50% success rate. 

At the very beginning of the year, a majority of San Francisco residents voted to recall three school board members after they became preoccupied with renaming school buildings to address racial justice concerns while placing less of an emphasis on reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

The recall is significant because San Francisco is one of the most progressive jurisdictions in the U.S., giving the Democratic presidential ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris more than 80% of the vote there in the 2020 presidential election.

Ryan Foley contributed to this report

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