Plain English descriptions of their actual effects instead of media freakoutery
"read the words in them"
Well, there's where you've gone wrong. You attempted to engage with objective reality.
I think the category error here is thinking the MSM exist now to present "news", that is, a relatively fair and factual assessment of various events.
But for the left side of the aisle, most esp the progressive aristocracy who suck daily at the teat of NYT/NPR/PBS etc, this DeSantis Fascist! beat serves first and foremost as an etiquette lesson—All Good People hate that "Don't Say Gay" Florida Man—plus as a tribal/ideological marker/shibboleth and also as a way to update crowdsourced dogma on the fly.
Not to mention that the digital Left seems to be displaying serious Projection issues, and as it's very hard for them to look in the mirror and admit that they've become censorious scolds who bowdlerize old books, inflict "sensitivity readers" on authors, and cancel anyone who contradicts sacred dogma, they've instead created this "book banning" antigay hysteria so as to blame their opponents for what they've so obviously become. (As if the Pensacola school board is as powerful as the NYT, Hollywood, the Ivy League etc. LOL)
The MSM for Left/liberals is like Tylenol—take 2 every 6 hrs to ease symptoms of cognitive dissonance.
Frustrates me to no end that the alphabet-soup of LBGTQ+ was created. Those of us that identify as L, G, or B find very little in common with the T-extremists (noting that NOT all T's are extremists), but are now being lumped in as one big group by the folks who find macro-groupings useful for their targeted tirades. I'm personally a fan of the #RemoteTheTfromLGBQ movement. Doesn't have much steam yet......but has potential.
This debate falls under the rubric of universal moral panic.
It goes like this: leftists attempt widespread, controversial norm change --> reactionaries on the right defecate themselves and others --> leftists screech about the smell --> additional defecation ensues --> rinse (for the love of god), repeat. Before you know it, everyone has shit in their pants and no one is happy.
Imagine living in the time with the highest word count in the public record and actually reading the words.
I say that as a joke but it's a serious issue. There is just so much to read that we just expect people to pre-chew things for us and take it as truth. Thanks for chewing the cud for us.
The thing you're leaving out, though, is the effect that the *writing* of these laws have: the laws themselves are not as much shots across the bow as some would like to think, but they serve as signals and trends for others who can *use* them as trends. It's a lot like the laws against suicide: the laws themselves are ineffective (anyone who's committed suicide is beyond the reach of such laws) but the existence of the laws serves as a deterrent. The existence of these bills, sane or not, suggests to both sides that there're sides to take... and that the FL government is on one side of the issue, even if the text of the bills suggests that there's more nuance than the readers might think.
You worry about HWFO, but it's obvious we have a national state of HW moral panic regarding transgender people in order to get easy votes. Look at the number of laws passed or proposed JUST IN FLORIDA that you've listed here. Given your statements on the subject, I'm guessing you would agree that the attention being given to the subject is not proportional to the "problem". While it's true biased news is distorting the actual text of the laws, I don't think they're distorting the unwarranted intent.
Regarding SB 1438, you accuse media organizations of conflating drag shows with pornography, which to me implies you believe the law will never be used against "non-pornographic" drag shows. First, I'd ask you to consider the necessity of this law now. Is there a rash in Florida of minors being exposed to live pornography that hasn't reached national attention? Why are we being asked to "think of the children" here? You accuse the "leftist" (my quotes) media of conflating transgenderism with sexual activities, but in my experience, it is currently the right that is calling any exposure of minors to the existence of LGBTQ+ people as "grooming". Second, consider one of your own hand-picked data points: "Only 29% of Americans think 'drag queen story hour' is appropriate for children." Why would they possibly consider that inappropriate if they are not conflating being a drag queen with inappropriate sexuality? Why would you consider this an important data point unless you were doing the same?
When I lived in NYC, I discovered there was a law requiring a license for bars to permit clients to dance (I almost got kicked out of an unlicensed bar for breaking that rule!). The law makes no sense. It was created back in the roaring 20's as a way to selectively shut down "undesirable" jazz bars playing black music. When analyzing the text of a law, you need to look also at the intention behind the law, and how it might be applied.
Reading the actual text of SB 1438, you'll find that the meat of the text relies on value judgements:
“Adult live performance” means any show...which, in whole or IN PART, depicts or simulates...lewd conduct...when it:
1. Predominantly appeals to a prurient, shameful, or morbid interest;
2. Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community of this state as a whole with respect to what is suitable material or conduct for the age of the child present;
3. Taken as a whole, is without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for the age of the child present.
(my edits are, of course, meant to highlight the most egregious interpretation)
Given that a significant portion of Floridians conflate books about having two mommies with "grooming", and sees fit to approving of legislation clearly targeted at anti-trans objectives, I find it reasonable to see this law as more than just a way to cut down on exposure of children to pornography.
I'm amazed that noone says that conscience clause would allow medical professionals to not prescribe or dispense contraceptives, morning after pills, medical abortion pills. Also refuse to perform vasectomies, tubal ligation or in vitro fertilization. And OF COURSE perform or participate in surgical abortions for whatever reason (perhaps apart from immediate danger to mother's life). Also prescribe contraceptives to under 18yo, or unmarried, women. Etc etc etc.
I have no idea what the status quo in Florida is now (I'm neither Floridan or even American) but such clauses pave a way to sneakily shift the Overton Window on what's "normal" reproductive health care and heavily affect women's (and general family) lives, including and up to lethal results (CF pre referendum Ireland, Poland right now), in line with usually heavily religious beliefs.
Mistake theory. Conflict.
What the hell, why would I read the laws when I can freakout about what the news dun told me? The news never lies.....
Com'on now, asking people to read is like asking people to not take a massive poop about every 12-36 hours. The average mouthbreather reads at a 6th grade level, no less. Don't ask them to read. How dare you.
Worth noting that the Florida state board of education recently extended the ban on topics of gender and sexuality up to the 12th grade.
When I think of that ban in relation to kindergarteners vs in relation to 12th graders I think of it in 2 very different ways. For kindergarteners I think of it as very necessary protection of young, highly impressionable kids from genuinely insane, groomery tiktok teachers who seem bent on getting the kids they teach to declare themselves the opposite sex. And for the upper elementary grades I think of the insane teachers trying to fill school libraries and curricula with literal porn like that "Gender Queer" book.
But when I think of this in relation to high schoolers, I think of history and literature teachers being banned from discussing very important events in the past 50 years of our history, and works of literature in which these themes have always been central to their analysis and interpretation. The poll you cited bears this out, as 3/4 support a ban on gender/sexuality in K-3 (rightly so), while 2/3 oppose it in high school (also rightly so).
My theory is that all of these people are mad that they missed the 60s civil rights movement (which, as we all know, was more significant than Thermopylae, Yorktown, and Gettysburg put together), so now they're desperately looking for an "oppressed group" to fight for. After all, oppressed groups are all completely helpless unless overeducated, underemployed, do goody white people take their side.