New sordid details in Ziegler’s Florida case show hypocrisy of ‘parental rights’ zealots | Opinion

We’ll give it to Bridget Ziegler: It takes a lot of guts — yet little intellectual candor — to continue to push anti-LGBTQ stances while recently released police records describe her sending her husband to bars to secretly take photos of women the couple might be interested in.

Ziegler is a member of the Sarasota County School Board and co-founder of Moms for Liberty — the “parental rights” organization that egged on lawmakers to pass laws like the one critics call “Don’t say gay ” banning classroom instructions on sexual orientation and gender identity. Her husband, a former Florida GOP chair, was accused last year of raping a woman with whom the Zieglers previously had consensual sex with, according to police records.

The Sarasota Police Department opted against filing charges against Christian Ziegler, but more notes from their investigation were released last week. The Zieglers are suing to block the release of additional records.

Those notes aren’t just salacious details about a couple’s private sex life. They describe behavior that, if true, appears to be downright creepy, especially coming from people who purport to uphold high moral standards by pushing policies that target people who don’t fall in line with their world view.

A memo written by a police investigator states “numerous” text messages exchanged between Bridget and Christian Ziegler show they were “on prowl for a female.” Bridget Ziegler directed her husband to go to different bars to find a woman they would both like.

“During these conversations Christian is secretly taking photographs of women in the bars and sending them to Bridget asking her if she wants this one or that one,” the memo states. “Bridget is telling him to pretend to take pictures of his beer, so they don’t see him taking pictures of them.

“She tells him ‘Don’t come home until your d—k is wet.’”

There is nothing wrong with Bridget Ziegler having sex with women or engaging in sexual threesomes, as long as they are consensual. The Ziegler debacle should serve as a lesson to the self-appointed guardians of traditional values in Florida that people’s sexuality often falls outside the “norm,” no matter how much they try to push that simple fact of life out of public education.

Despite all this, Bridget Ziegler has continued to soldier on — the faithful cultural warrior that she is.

Just earlier this month, she sponsored, and the Sarasota School Board adopted, a resolution to reject new federal protections against gender identity discrimination, putting the district at risk of losing about $50 million in federal funding, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.

Her profile on X, formerly known as Twitter, is also filled with anti-transgender rhetoric — from her rants about a “gender ideology cult” to a photo of her posing in a T-shirt that reads, “Real women aren’t men.”

Could Bridget Ziegler engage in sex with other women while also being opposed to giving transgender people visibility and rights? Sure. But it’s how she has used her very public platform to demonize a group of people that puts into question how much she — and other politicians who jumped on the “parental rights” wagon — truly believe their own cause.

How much of their zealotry is genuine and how much of it is borne in this instance out of political expediency, a calculated move to stay relevant and pander to Gov. Ron DeSantis? DeSantis too was quick to latch onto the parental rights movement when it began gaining steam during the pandemic.

Bridget Ziegler has faced calls to resign from her position on the Sarasota School Board. The Herald Editorial Board in December disagreed with the pressure campaign to make her leave her post given that she never faced criminal charges and that being a hypocrite doesn’t necessarily disqualify one from holding elected office.

If she chose to leave on her own volition, that would give DeSantis the opportunity to appoint her replacement.

In a democracy, voters, not the governor, should decide the fate of her election office. Voters also should signal to the state’s Republican leaders that the vitriol and bigotry disguised as “parental rights” has run its course in Florida.

Click here to send the letter.