Republican Congressman George Santos of New York’s third district has found himself in hot water once again, this time for retweeting an anti-LGBTQ+ video from the far-right activist group Project Veritas. The video claimed to expose a supposed agenda of promoting gender ideology to children at EdCamp Long Island, a grassroots, teacher-led professional development event in the region. Santos, who is openly gay, accused teachers who advocate for inclusion and tolerance in the classroom of indoctrinating children, specifically citing a middle school Spanish and Social Justice Teacher named Elisa Waters.
Waters, who founded LGBTeach and leads workshops to help teachers foster more inclusive classrooms, was the main target of the video. The footage showed her discussing the importance of teaching about gender diversity and encouraging students to communicate their preferred names and pronouns. She also spoke about how being tenured gives her the power to fight for change in a way that non-tenured teachers cannot and used the example of refusing to take down a Progress Pride flag in her classroom. While she encouraged non-tenured teachers to fight for change, she advised them to do so more tactfully until they gain tenure.
Project Veritas used the footage to claim that Long Island has become “an epicenter for using the classroom to promote gender ideology to children,” and Santos shared the sentiment. In the past, Santos has voiced his support for Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law and made it clear he believes discussions of LGBTQ+ people should be banned in schools. He has even cosponsored two anti-LGBTQ+ bills during his time in Congress.
While the video was used to vilify Waters and other educators advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion, it was later revealed that Project Veritas has a history of posting misleading content and was banned from Twitter last year for doing so. Despite this, Elon Musk, the platform’s new owner, reinstated the account. The group’s founder, James O’Keefe, was also recently ousted as leader after being accused of financial malfeasance.
Santos’ accusations against Waters and other educators not only reveal his opposition to LGBTQ+ inclusion in schools, but also the wider political agenda he is promoting. His past support of the Don’t Say Gay law and his cosponsorship of anti-LGBTQ+ bills demonstrate a pattern of behavior that is not aligned with the values of many of his constituents. As the investigation into his campaign finance law violations continues, it remains to be seen what further consequences may arise from his divisive rhetoric.