While race has been a top focus of Republican attacks on education, it’s not the only one. Florida's "don't say gay" bills would allow parents to sue school districts for any classroom discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity. Bills in Tennessee and Oklahoma would let parents sue to have books pulled from library shelves if they think the books are “obscene,” usually translated as containing LGBTQ content.
A bill introduced by the same Oklahoma state legislator who introduced the book-banning bill would allow parents to sue teachers for saying anything that conflicts with a student’s religious beliefs, including talking about evolution or the big bang theory. And teachers who got any financial help paying the fines would be fired.
In most cases, the plan is not to have teachers and school districts actually be sued—it’s to scare them into silence, which is working in the states that have already passed bills against teaching about race in ways that upset racist white parents. But once you pass a swath of extremely broad, vague bills offering the prospect of $10,000 for a temper tantrum, there are going to be people all too happy to have temper tantrums in hopes of the cash, no matter how cautious teachers, librarians, and schools are being.
In a few states, Democrats have also offered vigilante bills copying the Texas mechanism for evading legal scrutiny. In California and Illinois, lawmakers have introduced bills allowing private individuals to sue gun manufacturers, dealers, and others over the harms of gun violence. Also in Illinois, there’s a bill allowing business owners to sue customers over fake vaccination cards. But basically everyone involved realizes that if those laws pass, the Supreme Court is likely to strike them down without a second thought about the hypocrisy involved in doing so after allowing the Texas abortion ban to stand.
So while media organizations like the Post paint the rise of vigilante bills as a both-sides-do-it thing, the reality is that it’s overwhelmingly being used by Republicans as a tool of oppression, and the Trump-packed Supreme Court is guaranteed to treat Republican and Democratic laws very differently.