Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Ron DeSantis and Florida math

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Screenshot,: KXAN News.

I often blame my abysmal math skills on missing a crucial week of long division instruction way back in fourth grade. Laid low by a virus, I never caught up and remain lousy at math to this day.

But young students in Florida public schools will now have an even better excuse for not learning math: Their governor decided it was too gay and reverse-racist.

In his continuing quest to appear as dumb as a box of Indian River tangelos, Gov. Ron DeSantis has endorsed the removal of a whopping 54 math textbooks used in (mostly) elementary school classes because, he says, they contain math problems brimming with gender issues and Critical Race Theory.

No examples were cited but you can just take his word for it.

Remember when we used to laugh at “Florida man” stories? Oh, so quaint, those tales of various residents who … while NAKED, stole and crashed a police car…smeared poop on a neighbor’s “Be Kind” sign…claimed to own Google…charged cash money for being an alleged  “monkey whisperer” …turned an uncle’s skeleton into a “skelecaster” guitar…claimed during a DUI stop his passenger was an “emotional support python”…wore women’s underwear on his face as a mask when boarding a commercial flight…Ahhhh, those were such innocent, good times in comparison.

We now know the quintessential Florida Man is…the governor. I admit I was thrown off by his Ivy League education and even beat that dead horse a few weeks ago in this very space but readers took me to task: Education doesn’t guarantee wisdom, Florida readers repeatedly pointed out via email.

And then they all got high on bath salts and bit my face off.


I wasn’t all that surprised when faux conservatives like DeSantis wanted to ban library books. That’s entirely predictable because nothing says “I’m A Dumbbell” more convincingly than rounding up acclaimed literature and setting it on fire in the backyard burn barrel along with the Lil Debbie boxes, amiright?

But math textbooks? Whoa. That’s some twisted lowest common denominator stuff right there. Did not see that coming. It’s one thing to denigrate a book full of Pulitzer Prize winning WORDS by somebody like Toni Morrison but MATH textbooks? Seems a bit of a stretch. Because no credible examples were provided, I can only speculate how it’s possible to object to math problems.

But every time I try to imagine offensive math problems, I come up with something more on the order of …

“John and Mary each want to buy an ice cream cone at Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe but John says his daddy says the “e” on the end of Olde and Shoppe sounds kinda gay to him. How many seconds should tick by before Mary tells John he’s a homophobic idiot and leaves him sitting there while she gets her own ice cream?”

Maybe it was more like this…

“Britney’s parents are concerned their third grader may read a math problem that explores the fundamentals of Critical Race Theory, which examines the impact of racism in areas such as the legal system, housing opportunities and access to education. If Britney’s parents, who honestly haven’t read a book since middle school are suddenly experts on a complicated societal question, how many hours a day do you believe they spend watching Tucker Carlson each week? If you guessed “Well, erry dang time he’s on, of course!” all y’all get an A plus.

How about a twist on this old chestnut?

If 100 protesters block the entrance to Disney World because they believe Disney is a cult of pedophiles whose mouse mascot is sending subliminal messages to encourage children to turn gay, how many times will I bang my head on my desk in frustration because THIS REALLY HAPPENED before I pass out?

Nope. Higher.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Her email is [email protected].

Wake County leaders unite to celebrate new non-discrimination ordinances

Elected leaders from across Wake County came together Tuesday to celebrate their unified adoption of non-discrimination ordinances. (Photo: Equality NC)

On Tuesday the Campbell University School of Law hosted elected officials from across Wake County as they celebrated new LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in Raleigh, Knightdale and Morrisville.

Leaders from those communities signed a joint ceremonial document in support of protections from discrimination in employment and public accommodation in places like restaurants and hotels.

As Policy Watch has reported, the new ordinances became possible when a state ban on new local protections — including nondiscrimination ordinances for employment and housing — was lifted. The ban was a legacy of the  brutal fight over HB 2 and HB 142, the controversial laws that excluded lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from statewide nondiscrimination protections.

Since the ban on new ordinances expired, 18 communities across the state have adopted non-discrimination ordinances.

Campbell’s law school has taken the lead in helping resolve complaints filed through the ordinance process.

Kendra Johnson, executive director of Equality North Carolina, applauded the signing in a statement Tuesday.

“Today we celebrated the commitment of Raleigh, Knightdale and Morrisville to making their communities inclusive of all,” Johnson said. “No one should have to fear bigotry based on their ZIP code, nor should they have to move to avoid discrimination. Having non-discrimination ordinances sends a clear and powerful message that all people are welcomed and included in their home communities.”

In its statement, Equality NC stressed new and proactive state and federal protections are still needed.

“We celebrate this commitment to equality and look forward to North Carolina being a stellar example of what diversity and equity look like in legislation,” the group said in its statement. “The momentum behind these signings shows that North Carolina stands ready, and we encourage others to communicate to their local leaders now is the time to pass LGBTQ protections, demand that our state lawmakers fully repeal discriminatory laws and enact proactive protections, and urge our elected officials in the United States Congress and the NCGA to support comprehensive nondiscrimination laws.”

As Policy Watch reported last month, North Carolina has so far resisted a national wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation. But LGBTQ advocates and Democratic state lawmakers warn of gathering momentum for such laws on the political right. With elections looming, the political calculus at both the state and federal level could soon change.

Florida special legislative session to include attack on Disney over its opposition to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law

Walt Disney World is among the properties that could be impacted by Florida legislation targeting its parent company over its opposition to Florida’s new “Don’t say gay” law. Photo: Wikipedia

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has expanded the call of a special session on congressional redistricting opening on Tuesday to include “special districts,” including the one that gives The Walt Disney Co. governing authority over the parks and other developments it operates in Central Florida.

“Yes, they will be considering the congressional map but they also will be considering termination of all special districts that were enacted in Florida prior to 1968. And that includes the Reedy Creek improvement district,” the governor said during a news conference in The Villages in Central Florida.

He thanked House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson, who flanked him on stage, “for not only working for the reapportionment but for stepping up and making sure that we make the sunset determination on those special districts happen, which I think is very important,” DeSantis said.

The move would make good on threats by DeSantis and legislative Republicans to punish Disney for opposing Florida’s so-called “Don’ Say Gay” law which prohibits classroom instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3 or in a manner that is not “age-appropriate,” which lawmakers have said means students in older grades. The law itself is titled “Parental Rights in Education.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Screenshot: KXAN News.

DeSantis signed the measure into law on March 28 amid complaints it discriminates against LGBTQ people.

The Legislature authorized Reedy Creek in 1967, as Disney prepared to open Walt Disney World. According to the authority’s website, Its 25,000 acres in Orange and Osceola counties encompass four theme parks, a sports complex, 175 miles of roadway, 67 miles of waterways, the cities of Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, plus water, natural gas, wastewater, sanitation, and electric utilities.


Disney attempted to sit out the controversy of the law while the Legislature debated it during the recently concluded regular session but, pressured by employees, ultimately came out against it and stopped campaign financial contributions in Florida.

“Do what you believe in, but understand, if you are out protesting this bill, you are by definition putting yourself in favor of injecting sexual instruction to five, six and seven-year-old kids. I think most people think that’s wrong. I think parents especially think that’s wrong,” DeSantis said on March 22.

Michael Moline is a reporter for the Florida Phoenix, which first published this report.

Conservative writer Ben Shapiro turns out thousands at UNCG, inspires LGBTQ affirming counter-event

Shapiro spoke to more than 2,000 people on campus at UNCG Monday evening – among them fans, critics and protestors. While some people were ejected from the event for interrupting the speech, hundreds who opposed his appearance chose to attend a competing event instead.


Conservative writer and podcaster Ben Shapiro drew more than 2,000 people to UNC-Greensboro’s Fleming Gymnasium Monday evening, some coming from across the state as well as Virginia and South Carolina.

Free and open to the public, the event brought out passionate supporters of the conservative provocateur as well as critics, protesters and the merely curious.

“I drove three hours from Greenville [South Carolina] with my daughter,” said Avery Wilson, 46, standing in line for the event a half-hour before doors opened. “It’s not that often you get to see someone as big as Ben Shapiro come out and stand up for the truth and for the women and show everyone you can’t shut down free speech on these campuses because you don’t like hearing the truth.”

The event also brought out a number of GOP politicians like perennial congressional candidate Lee Haywood and Jeff Hyde, a Greensboro-based conservative activist and occasional political operative who ran unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2010 and for Guilford County Republican Party Chairman in 2011. Several could be seen glad-handing and distributing campaign and other political literature to the throngs of people waiting to get into the gymnasium.

Shapiro’s speech, “Men Cannot Become Women,” was born of the controversy around recent anti-transgender statements and events from the campus chapter of the national conservative group Young Americans for Freedom.

The group, which held its first general meeting on campus in October of 2020, has since sponsored events with titles like “The Disguised Racism of Critical Race Theory,” “Realities of the Black Lives Matter Movement” and “Abortion: The Ugly Truth.”

With an event last year titled “The Horror of Leftist Gender Ideology,” the group steered into a national conservative trend of depicting transgender people as mentally ill, the victims of abusive parents or themselves potential sexual groomers of children. Nationwide, Republicans have filed nearly 200 bills in the last year seeking to limit discussion of LGBTQ people, limit or end protections for them and limit or bar their participation in certain activities. A nationwide swell of school book bans related to books with LGBTQ characters or topics. While none of these bills have yet become law in North Carolina, conservative activists and lawmakers continue to press for them.

YAF’s anti-transgender ideology hasn’t gone over well at UNCG, a traditionally LGBTQ-friendly campus often called “UNC-Gay” derisively by conservatives and affectionately by queer students and their allies. Read more

Another advocacy group calls for Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson to resign, announces planned demonstration

Saying “we expect our elected officials to represent everybody,” yet another North Carolina advocacy group has added its name to the list of groups and prominent individuals calling for the resignation of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson in the wake of his latest homophobic remarks.

The following release was distributed this morning by the North Carolina chapter of the National Organization for Women:

North Carolina National Organization for Women (NC NOW) joins the chorus calling for the resignation of North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson since he is unable to respectfully represent all North Carolinians. Lt. Governor Mark Robinson has been called out for remarks he made regarding the LGBTQIA community in June, when he referred to homosexuality and transgenderism as “filth”. Robinson made similar comments on September 30 at another event, and he added new offensive comments at a church in Winston-Salem on November 14. NC NOW adopted a resolution denouncing Robinson’s remarks at their recent state conference. Many groups and individuals have marched and rallied and gone from trying to reason with Lt. Gov. Robinson, to asking him to apologize, to telling him to resign. There will be another protest at the Lt. Governor’s Office at 310 N Blount St, in Raleigh this Friday, Dec 3, at 4:30pm.

NC NOW supports the dignity and rights of everybody, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. We believe that everybody deserves respect and support. The Lt. Governor’s remarks are ignorant and hurtful to members of the LGBTQIA community, family, supporters and friends. In addition, his comments are discriminatory, inflammatory and potentially dangerous.

Lt. Governor Robinson is actively working to shame and ostracize LGBTQIA students. Our schools need to be places where all students are protected and supported. However, Robinson’s comments are in no way limited to books and schools as he sometimes claims. He is making them at churches and conservative events around the state, where he is billed as North Carolina’s Lt. Governor. Meanwhile, his claims are getting more offensive and outrageous. At a church in Winston-Salem on Nov 14, he “made clear that he believes homosexuals are inferior to heterosexuals, saying they serve no purpose.

We expect our elected officials to represent everybody. Lt. Governor Robinson’s remarks have shown that he cannot respect all of his constituents.  These discriminatory attitudes from an elected official, especially from the second highest officer in the state, underscore the need for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections in North Carolina. We call on Lt. Governor Robinson to resign his position since he is unable to respectfully represent all North Carolinians.