US politicians, commentators misrepresent fictional pride flag skit

A video that appears to show a mother storming into a classroom and throwing away a pride flag is circulating on social media platforms, amplified by accounts cheering the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric of the purported parent amid debate over how gender identity should be discussed in US schools. But the video is scripted; it is part of a series of fictional classroom skits.

"They need to stop teaching this stuff to our children. Are you glad this mother did this? I am," says a September 17, 2023 post with the clip from an Elon Musk parody account on X, formerly known as Twitter.

<span>Screenshot of a post on X taken September 19, 2023</span>
Screenshot of a post on X taken September 19, 2023

The video gathered hundreds of thousands of interactions in English and French posts. Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly and Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, both of whom have previously spread misinformation, amplified it.

<span>Screenshot of an X post from Megyn Kelly taken September 19, 2023</span>
Screenshot of an X post from Megyn Kelly taken September 19, 2023
<span>Screenshot of an X post from Marjorie Taylor Greene taken September 19, 2023</span>
Screenshot of an X post from Marjorie Taylor Greene taken September 19, 2023

Since 2021, many state lawmakers have introduced legislation to ban discussion of LGBTQ issues in schools, notably in Florida where Governor Ron DeSantis backed a ban on lessons related to gender identity and sexual orientation, often called the "Don't Say Gay" law (archived here).

But the clip is a scripted, fictional scene.

A reverse image search leads to a September 16 Facebook post (archived here) sharing the video with the title: "Mother tears down Pride Flag."

The account belongs to a creator named "Jibrizy" who says he is "a director making conversational topic videos that feel reel." This page has a verified badge with Facebook and lists him as a comedian.

Around six and a half minutes into the video, the comedians say: "This is all the skit." The woman who took down the flag smiles on the right side of the shot.

<span>Screenshot taken September 18, 2023 of a video on Facebook</span>
Screenshot taken September 18, 2023 of a video on Facebook

AFP further identified the clip as a skit by searching on TikTok for the hashtags #school, #teacher #viralvideo #class and #student. It revealed several videos filmed in the same classroom setting (archived here). They feature the identical woman who was said to be the angry parent, but sometimes she portrays a teacher or a student (archived here, here and here).

Comments on TikTok pointed to a page called "Kenyon's Friends" on Facebook, as a source for the videos.

Similar footage with the same classroom layout and actors appears elsewhere on the "Kenyon's Friends" Facebook page (archived here).

"Kenyon's Friends" uploaded and deleted the pride flag video. A September 18 post with the clip is archived here.

"Please be advised that this page's videos are intended for entertainment purposes only," says the caption of a skit published in August 2022 (archived here). "The videos on this page include scripted dramas, satires, parodies, magic tricks, pre-recorded videos, and other forms of entertainment."

The post continues: "Names, characters and incidents are often the product of the director's imagination, so any resemblance to actual persons or actual events is purely coincidental."

AFP contacted "Kenyon's Friends" for comment, but a response was not forthcoming.

Hate speech, including posts spreading the false narrative that LGBTQ people are "grooming" children, have proliferated on X since Musk took over the company in 2022. Laws aimed at supporting transgender youth have also been hit with disinformation campaigns.

AFP has fact-checked other misinformation about the LGBTQ community here.

September 21, 2023 This article has been updated to add information on the director of the video and background on anti-LGBTQ legislation in the United States.