On June 1 at 9:55 p.m., The Ingraham Angle, a staple of Fox News punditry, featured an unlikely ally—a tattooed and short-haired woman along with a man with the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL). “Are you shocked by the alliance that has formed with more liberal feminists and some conservatives on this issue?” asked Laura Ingraham, the host, who was curious, too. The guest, Milwaukee Public School Counselor Marissa Darlingh dodged the question, the issue was “non-partisan.”
Darlingh is a school counselor at Allen-Field Elementary and is under investigation by the Department of Public Instruction for immoral conduct for participating in a hate rally on the Wisconsin Capitol Square on April 23. At the rally, Darlingh proudly announced both her occupation and her name publicly, clearly tying her comments to her work duties. Darlingh is currently on administrative leave at the MPS school following the investigation into her comments. She is, however, still employed by the school. “I oppose gender ideology ever entering the walls of my school building,” she declared. Her work that should be supporting the lives of trans and non-binary students does the opposite. They are not welcome. She will not respect them with their correct pronouns. For them, this public school counselor is more of a conversion therapist, denying vulnerable kids support when they need it most.
“F**k transgenderism. F**k it!” she says in a clip from the rally. The five-minute-interview on Fox made the message clear—Darlingh’s hate screed was just spirited free speech. Never mind the official capacity she was engaging in. Never mind her clear intent to hurt and discriminate against queer and trans kids. She was just careless with her use of expletives. WILL is set on this narrative. It is a free speech case, of course. She was there on her “own time” despite flouting her official position that is supposed to be helping kids and not hurting them actively.
Laura asked a very leading question about the “new movement” to “encourage sexual exploration in very young children today.” Her question referenced an old trope of homophobia and transphobia to compare LGBTQ+ people to perversion or pedophilia. Marissa claims to support lesbian, gay, and bisexual folks, unlike Laura, but that won’t stop her from allying with the right against the LGBTQ+ community. Darlingh went into various TERF transphobic talking points about “disfiguring body parts” and how the trans rights movement is supported by “big pharma.” “Protect Trans Kids,” Darlingh said with venom as she describes the t-shirt of a counterprotester.
This all comes as various statehouses target trans kids’ lives before the 2022 election. A genital inspection bill just passed in Ohio for “suspected” trans girls, requiring them to get three medical tests if accused. Florida has a Don’t Say Gay bill that disallows mention of gay and trans people in schools. The Texas Governor is fighting to allow Texas Child Protective Services to investigate supportive parents of trans kids for abuse, despite various courts disagreeing about his authority to do so. These powerful people put a target on trans kids—some of the most vulnerable people in America. They are relying on outdated systems to support them through relentless attacks from governments and social stigma.