26 Dec 2018

Who’s trying to ban moms and dads?

Have you heard that California has banned the words “mom” and “dad” from its public schools? Or that the same “danger” is looming over Europe?

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Who’s trying to ban moms and dads? - NewsMavens
Parent1 and Parent2, PixaBay

A Croatian website titled "The truth about the Istanbul’s (convention)" [sic] was the hub of a religious right campaign against the ratification of Istanbul Convention in Croatia.

The website’s main “fact sheet”, titled Gender Ideology Worldwide, takes on the ambitious task of presenting its readers with “The effects of gender ideology on the countries which legally adopted it”. And it does so in about a dozen  false or misleading bullet points.

Some of these  claims are virtually uncheckable -- they use deliberately vague constructions like “research shows”, “some countries”, “official forms in increasing number of states” etc. -- without any indication of where and when the described events took place. Others are merely opinions-stated-as-facts, like the one claiming that same-sex couples having children violate children’s “right to a mother and father”; or that gender ideology makes teenagers “confused and disoriented”.

But some are just precise enough for us to check their original sources -- and their accuracy.


The first such claim takes us to California, a state supposedly riddled with gender ideology, where they claim a legal ban has been imposed on terms related to traditional family and marriage:

The laws (for example in California) ban the use of words “mom” and “dad”, as well as “husband” and “wife”. The designations “parent 1” and “parent 2” are introduced.

We traced the origin of the claim to articles published in 2007 on several US-based right-wing websites, such as World Net Daily, which made it onto Wikipedia’s list of fake news websites with its conspiracy theories and demonstrably false news. The article which published this “news” was no exception:

"MOM" AND "DAD" BANISHED BY CALIFORNIA: Schwarzenegger signs law outlawing terms perceived as negative to "gays"

The headline refers to California Student Civil Rights Act (a.k.a. SB 777 bill), an amendment to the state’s Education Code passed in 2007, which states that it would “revise the list of prohibited bases of discrimination and the kinds of prohibited instruction and activities and, instead, would refer to disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic contained in the definition of hate crimes that is contained in the Penal Code” and define these terms for this purpose.

The bill does introduce some new language, such as using the term "pupils with disabilities" instead of “handicapped pupils" in the existing laws. But it offers no provision whatsoever on how parents should be addressed.


The claim about a ban on words “mom” and “dad” is a clear-cut piece of fake news, and one aiming to strengthen the antifeminist backlash and intersectional discrimination at the core of “Stop the Istanbul Convention” campaign.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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