At the peak of the Critical Race Theory controversy in June of 2021, I was invited to Waukesha, Wisconsin to give a speech in front of a crowd of what was supposed to be a few hundred people about my thoughts on race and CRT in schools. 600 people showed up—double the number the organizers had expected.

This wasn’t a Trump rally filled with politically active people; on the contrary, it was a crowd of concerned parents who wanted to learn. They were your middle of the road, working-class Americans who had been witnessing their public-school systems actively work against them, and they wanted to understand why, and what to do about it.

While the event was centered around CRT and the hyper-racialization happening in the surrounding school districts, I quickly found out that their concerns were much bigger than race; they were worried about things they believed their children were being taught about gender and sexual orientation, too. And they were not wrong: Since then, these parents have showed me documentation of school assignments introducing gender ideology and what they see as inappropriate sexual content either given to or made available to their children.

These are normal, middle class parents with reasonable concerns. But to hear the liberal media tell it, upset parents showing up to school districts around the country were simply racists who were there because Fox News created a moral panic about something that isn’t happening.

I can tell you first hand how wrong this was, how the media’s elitist snobbery overshadowed their journalistic curiosity. Instead of speaking with upset parents, journalists chose to dismiss them again and again—and even worse, they chose to tell them that what they are seeing it isn’t really there. The mainstream media apparatus prefers gaslighting instead of investigating, especially when it involves the concerns of working-class people, speaking as if we are too dumb to understand concepts, speaking for us instead of with us and then gaslighting us when step out of line.

And now they are doing it with Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which protects children in grades K-3 from education about gender and sexual orientation. But the liberal media, in lockstep with Democratic politicians, smeared the bill as a “don’t say gay” bill though those words don’t appear anywhere in the legislation.

Behind the CRT outrage, just like behind the Florida bill, is a real story about disgruntled parents. Parents who don’t like how public-school systems are implementing curricula they didn’t approve of, how they are forcing the masking of their children when they felt it was unnecessary. They don’t like discussions of sexuality and gender without the parent’s prior notification and the hyperbolic nature with which race is being discussed with their children.

But rather than cover these legitimate concerns, the Left-leaning mainstream media made parental concerns into a partisan political issue, forcing apolitical people to get off the sidelines and choose a side. They assumed this sudden wave of parents shouting down school boards was a Republican-funded operation to manufacture a panic.

Don't Say Gay

Ironically, the media’s dismissive behavior toward the working class during the last couple of years has created more non-Democrats than any Republican effort could have accomplished.

The Democrats‘ political and media establishment has effectively abandoned working class independents and moderates like me while politicizing parenthood. Instead of listening to the legitimate concerns of disgruntled parents, they chose to politicize them. The Democratic establishment now virtue signals to their progressive voters by going along with every change they deem positive for social progress, and have greenlit the slandering of those who oppose such drastic changes.

Republican politicians who are aware enough to see the mistreatment happening have happily catered to the majority. Glenn Youngkin, now the Governor of Virginia, spoke to the concerns of parents within Virginia during his campaign and won in a landslide. What did his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, do? He talked incessantly about Donald Trump, who wasn’t even in office at the time.

Protecting children isn’t supposed to be a political stance. American parents are disgruntled because they’re told that while their kids are in the custody of a public school, they have no say. But our public schools are supposed to work for us, not the other way around.

A year after I spoke in Waukesha, I returned to the same area and met some of those disgruntled parents again. A year prior, many were homemakers who didn’t understand what was happening around them. Now they are running for local political office and school board seats.

The ignoring and gaslighting of disgruntled parents by Democratic politicians and liberal media elitists has activated the apolitical moderate working-class people of America. And it’s sending them right into the arms of Republicans.

Correction: An earlier draft of this essay misstated the contents of the Parental Rights in Education bill. It doesn’t mandate parental notification for education about gender and sexual orientation in grades K-3, but prevents it full stop. We regret the error.

Adam B. Coleman is the author of “Black Victim To Black Victor” and the Founder of Wrong Speak Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @wrong_speak.

The views in this article are the writer’s own.