By Brandt Robinson, Dunedin High School history teacher and Indivisible Safety Harbor member
My name is Brandt Robinson. I’m a proud Indivisible member and a history and social studies teacher at Dunedin High School in Pinellas County, Florida. You’re probably familiar with our most famous alum: presidential candidate and the governor of my state, Ron DeSantis.
My twenty-six years as a professional educator has paralleled the steady assault against our state’s public schools and its teachers. These attacks only intensified as the far-right has ascended to power and the pandemic revealed so many of our institutions were vulnerable to those who do not value our democratic experiment.
Most of you are probably aware that here in Florida, DeSantis and many of his supporters have accused public school teachers like me of “indoctrinating” and “grooming” our students. Simultaneously, LGBTQ+ students have been targeted with bigotry and shame, simply because of who they are.
With politicians like DeSantis in their corner, groups like Moms for Liberty have powered this inquisition by targeting curriculum, literature, and even the basic history of our country under a hollow and shallow mantra of “parental rights.” This, despite the fact that none of their accusations are actually happening and, in reality, our public schools have always been open and inviting to parents and guardians.
Simply for doing my job, I’ve been targeted with harassment and threats, which began over two years when a member of Moms for Liberty challenged the textbook used in my African American history class and then subjected me to a time-consuming audit of every reading and handout I planned to use for the remainder of the semester. While this amounted to little more than intimidation, her efforts were bolstered by Governor DeSantis’s increasing attacks, first on the boogeyman of “critical race theory,” then the critically important values of diversity, equity and inclusion, packaged as the sinister “DEI,” and finally bundling all under the label of “wokeness.”
It didn’t take long for me to discover what much of the country has since learned — that these efforts are coordinated, and those attacking teachers, librarians and school boards have a national network behind them suggesting what books should be banned and what laws should be promoted to undermine public education.
That’s exactly why Indivisible has launched the Our States, Our Fates program. By bringing Indivisible groups together from red states across the country to strategize, share learnings and resources, and support each other in the fight for the freedom to learn, Indivisible is building a network of pro-education, pro-democracy activists who are ready to counter the attacks on our schools.
Polling shows we have more people on our side opposing book bans, revisionist history lessons, and policies that harm LGBTQ+ students — but it doesn’t always feel that way. Rightwing media flood the public square and often it’s the loudest, most hateful voices that trend on social media. This is just another reason why it’s so important that we create space for those who share our values of diversity and inclusion, and build a community of activists from across the country to lean on and learn from each other.
Everyone has a role to play here including teachers, parents, guardians, librarians, and concerned members of the community. Right now, one of the best ways you can show your support for this fight is pitching in so that Indivisible groups like mine on the frontlines of this battle have the resources we need to defend our schools, our libraries, and our kids’ freedom to learn.
The creation of the Indivisible movement validated a realization I and most of you have understood for years: Too many of us have not done our part to get involved in and model a commitment to participatory democracy. Too many of us have been too passive in the face of deepening divisions, racial bigotry, and the denial of voting and reproductive rights.
This is why our Indivisible movement is fundamental to the foundation of this great remaking. While the composition of the hundreds of Indivisible chapters across our nation reflects the diversity of its citizens and issues, our commitment to democracy and its underlying principles is what we stand for. Our children are always watching.
Thanks for reading, and thank you for chipping in, if you can, to support teachers, parents, and community members dedicated to resisting the right-wing assault on our institutions — including one of the most important institutions for the survival of our democracy, our public schools.