Censorship, Misinformation and K-12

Susannah Luthi:

California governor Gavin Newsom (D.), who just last month signed a law requiring media literacy courses for public schools to counter “online misinformation,” on Thursday took to X, formerly Twitter, to advance a false narrative accusing a small Tennessee city of imposing a ban on “being gay in public.”

“A city in Tennessee has banned being gay in public. This is just the beginning,” Newsom wrote Thursday on X, linking to a New Republic story that claims the city council of Murfreesboro, Tenn., “passed [an] ordinance essentially prohibiting homosexuality in public to try to ban library books.”

Murfreesboro’s ordinance sets decency standards for the city’s public spaces, barring indecent exposure, lewd behavior, nudity, and sexual conduct, as well as “indecent materials and events.” While the city is using the law to cull explicit kids’ books from the public library, the ordinance does not mention homosexuality but cross-references a statute about sexual conduct that did up until October. Local lawmakers in November updated that statute to strike the term “homosexuality” after a local LGBT group and the ACLU sued the city and secured a court ban on its enforcement.

Newsom’s tweet came just a month after he signed a law requiring K-12 students in California to take internet media literacy courses on the grounds that “online misinformation has posed risks to international peace, interfered with democratic decisionmaking, and threatened public health.”