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Biden Backs Plan To Train Ukrainian Pilots On F-16 Fighter Jets; President Biden Set To Meet Zelenskyy At Japan Summit; Nebraska Legislature Approves 12-Week Abortion Ban And Limits Gender-Affirming Care For Minors; Suspect Arrested Four Years After Newborn Found Alive In Plastic Bag; Utah Woman Wrote A Book About Grief After Death Of Her Husband, Now She's Charged With His Murder; Conservative Education Activist Group Pushing Classroom Fight Over Gender Identify, Sexuality; Brittney Griner Plays First Official Game After Russia Ordeal. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 20, 2023 - 13:00   ET



NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The strippers will be represented by Actors Equity Association, and they expect to negotiate across the table. The dancer is telling me that they're looking for a lot of the safety measures that they had initially outlined in that petition, including not allowing the customers to be able to film inside the club, not allowing customers to stay after hours.

I do want to note that some of the dancers are actually part of multiple unions, including one who told me she's part of the Writers Guild of America currently on strike, and that they did notice a lot of camaraderie and solidarity with labor organizers from other industries. And while this incident came about spontaneously, they did find that organizers from Amazon and Starbucks unions showed up to help them and vice versa.

Natasha Chen, CNN, Los Angeles.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right. Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

All right. President Biden will officially be meeting with Ukraine's President Zelenskyy at the G7 summit in Japan. The White House making that announcement just a short time ago. Ukraine already scored a key victory after the U.S. has signaled it will now permit allies to send F-16 fighter jets to the war-torn nation. Other G7 leaders have been meeting with Zelenskyy and issued a statement of support, saying "we reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine for as long as it takes."

Russia's war on Ukraine isn't the only issue high on the agenda. Western leaders are also weighing in on how to confront China's increasing military power. CNN's Phil Mattingly is in Hiroshima, Japan. So, what can we expect to come from this highly-anticipated meeting between Biden and Zelenskyy?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. You know, the symbolism is obvious. We've seen it not just here in Hiroshima, but also over the course of the last 10 days with President Zelenskyy traveling through European capitals attending the Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, making the case not just to clear allies, like those leaders in the G7 but also to those who have perhaps been more neutral, even leaning towards Russia throughout the course of this conflict since their invasion 15 months ago.

And trying to push those allies and those who may be in the more neutral camp towards supporting Ukraine's positions towards cutting off support for Russia, and perhaps most importantly, trying to unify as much of the world as possible as they push towards a very critical moment in this conflict. U.S. officials acknowledged they expect to counter offensive by Ukrainian forces in the coming weeks, no certainty in terms of that date.

But part of what you've seen President Zelenskyy do and this will be something that he'll continue to do throughout the course of the day, including a working group meeting with all seven leaders is to continue to push for more. The unity, the durability, the stability to some degree of the Western alliance that supported Ukraine over the course of the last 15 months, I think would surprise pretty much everybody that's involved, including senior U.S. officials.

And yet as they enter into this critical part of a war that has just been grinding on for months, they need more weapon systems, they need more economic aid, they certainly need just as much as they possibly can get. And that has been a big part of what President Zelenskyy has pushed towards. And I think it is part of the reason why the U.S. has signed off on a willingness to allow the transfers of F-16 from allies not from U.S. stocks, but from allies.

And also, they -- that they will participate in training programs. As you noted, Fred, that's a dramatic shift from President Biden and his team. Something they hadn't opened the door to four months despite pleas from President Zelenskyy and top Ukrainian officials, as well as some Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. But it underscores the power of the message that Zelenskyy brings in moments like this.

And the reality of a conflict that shows no signs of ending anytime soon. I will say while the bilateral meeting with President Biden is an important meeting, U.S. officials are looking forward to that meeting. And it'll be the first time they've met face to face since President Biden's surprise visit to Kyiv. It's the other leaders President Zelenskyy is meeting with while here including countries not in the G7 who were invited to participate in this summit.

Many of them kind of in that neutral camp in terms of the conflict giving him an opportunity to make his case and try and rally them to Ukraine side. That is an invaluable opportunity when you talk to U.S. officials, giving him a chance to actually make that case has a lot of importance going into this critical moment in the war.

WHITFIELD: Hmm. And while miles away, Democratic lawmakers have been reaching out to the President on other matters including, you know, they're asking the president to raise the case of a U.S. Navy officer who's jailed in Japan, and they want Biden to have those discussions with the Japanese Prime Minister. Will that happen? MATTINGLY: That's a great question. He was -- he had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Kishida earlier in the summit. When asked if he raised the issue at that time, White House officials said they had nothing to add to the meeting readout which did not have any mention of Lieutenant Alkonis.


But they did make clear that the U.S. government has been raising the issue consistently over the course of the last several months. President Biden did raise the issue when President -- Prime Minister Kishida was at the White House for a visit earlier this year. But this is a very complex situation. Without question, the officer, Lieutenant Alkonis was charged with negligent driving that led to the deaths of three people and the injury of another.

Sentenced to three years in prison and his family makes clear that what ended up happening was not his fault. They don't believe it was and they believe that the U.S. and Japan particularly given the alliance between the two countries should be able to arrange some way to transfer him back to the United States. We'll see if that issue comes up over the course of this final day in the summit.

It is certainly been pressed forward not just by lawmakers, by the family, but by allies around the White House going into this summit.

WHITFIELD: All right. Phil Mattingly, thank you so much from Hiroshima. All right. While President Zelenskyy of Ukraine is front and center at the summit there, a stark reminder of the war back home for him. Russia, again, striking the city of Kyiv earlier today, making it the 11th time the capital has been targeted this month alone.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in eastern Ukraine. So, Nic, how important overall, is this trip for Zelenskyy? How is he measuring success yet?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. Well, it's not done yet. I think the world has come to understand when President Zelenskyy gets something he moves on to the next thing in his deck of needs. And it was lastly the tanks and then it was the fighter aircraft. But what he says is going to be doing now at the G7 as coordinating with partners, and preparing for and planning the next joint steps.

And in this, he says that's going to be about Ukraine's defense, it's going to be about weapons, it's going to be about fighter jets, it's going to be about air defense. But we think it's also going to be about the support that he needs to get going forward from NATO. Not just the military support right now. But a specific language when ultimately a peace plan can be on the table that Ukraine has satisfied its needs in territorial retakes from the Russians within its own borders.

That Ukraine is going to have the international support and specifically security guarantees from NATO. So, I think that's going to be on his agenda. But Zelenskyy is already always looking ahead. And that -- and that will come for a timeline on the fighter jets when they can precisely have them, what weapon systems they can have, how many they can have, where they'll be repaired, how many pilots they can get trained, how quickly.

All of those sorts of details, but we know that he's going to be looking beyond that for sure.

WHITFIELD: And then, Nic, you know, we are hearing about these continued strikes on Kyiv. What is the latest?

ROBERTSON: Overnight, all the missiles fired. 20 drones, Shaheed drones. Ukrainian official sites shut down. They calculate that what Russia is trying to do here. One is, you know, mess with Ukraine's population. A lot of people live in the capital. There are people who've evacuated from towns like this one, and others all over the country that have moved to Kyiv. There's a lot of people there.

The government makes sure that they have electricity, they have water. But what the Russians are doing is trying to mess with their psyche and unsettle the population and essentially, you know, make a -- create a population that doesn't want to have this long war, that wants it all over as soon as possible. But there's another thing the Ukrainian say the Russians are trying to do which is deplete the missile systems that the Ukrainians use to defend the capital.

Because missiles that they use to defend the capital are missiles or systems that they can't use to defend their soldiers at the front line. And it's those soldiers that are critically important to continue the fight going forward. So, it's a -- it's a concern of the Ukrainians. But they know that this is the reality that Russia is just going to -- going to try to find their weak points, and they're going to do exactly the same with the Russians.

WHITFIELD: OK. And Nic, you know, you've been on the front lines. How big of a difference might it make for Ukraine to get these F-16s?

ROBERTSON: The F-16 can fire weapon systems from further back from the frontline than the fighter jets that the Ukrainians have right now. We hear the fighter jets come zooming over here, head off towards the front lines. You hear explosions through the night sometimes. You don't know precisely what the fighter jets are doing. But the ones they have right now have to get close to the front lines because they need to be close to fire their munitions with more sophisticated weapons platforms like the F-16.

They can stand further back from the frontlines, be safer from Russian anti-aircraft fire, deeper behind Russian lines, hit their ammo piles, hit their fuel supply lines. Hit all the things that is going to -- that are going to cripple the Russian military on the front line.


And again, that will all contribute to saving lives of the soldiers in the fight at the front. But they do need they say everything to try to make this breakthrough in the counteroffensive. They look at what Russia does. Russia looks at what they do. Both sides are trying to find a weak point and a weak moment. So, anything that tips the balance better in Ukraine's favor, sophisticated F-16s, that is going to help.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It's still unclear what the timeline might be. Nic Robertson, appreciate it.

All right, still to come. A win for conservatives in Nebraska as the state legislature approves a 12-week ban on most abortions and slaps new restrictions on gender-affirming care. What critics are saying next.

Plus. Nearly four years after this newborn was found alive in a plastic bag in the woods. Authorities have identified and arrested the child's mother. Details straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: An abortion bill in Nebraska is one step closer to becoming law after the state legislature voted for its passage on Friday. The bill also known as the Let Them Grow Act. Combines a ban on most abortions after 12 weeks and also puts restrictions on gender- affirming care for transgender residents under the age of 19. CNN National Correspondent Camila Bernal joining me with more on this.

Camila, this -- I came after hours of contentious debate. What led up to Friday's vote?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. So, these are two issues that people are extremely passionate about. So, we're talking about protesters, chanting, multiple arrests and of course debate. But this bill ultimately passed and we fully expect the governor to sign this into law. So, we're just kind of waiting to see exactly when that will happen. Now, I do want to explain the Let Them Grow Act because it has two parts.

And the first is the gender-affirming care part of it. The other part is the abortion and this was a last-minute addition to the bill. It was an amendment that was added on Wednesday. And so, there's a lot to this bill. When it comes to the gender-affirming care part of it, what this bill does is that it essentially bars physicians from performing gender transition surgeries. Now these are rare when it comes to teens and children.

But the other part of it is restricting access to puberty, blocking medication and to hormone treatments. Now that is standard care for teens and children who want to transition. Now, the other aspect of this is the abortion part. And what it does here is that it restricts abortions at 12 weeks. There are some exceptions when it comes to sexual assault, when it comes to incest and when it comes to medical emergencies.

And Nebraska here is a single-lawmaking chamber. So, what it took was a two-thirds majority. It passed with 33 yeses and 15 nos. Of course, there was plenty of debate here. But I want to show you just some of what was heard on the chamber.


STATE SEN. MIKE JACOBSON (R) NEBRASKA: We're not the bad guys. We're trying to protect young children and young adults that before the age of 19. And we're trying to protect preborn children from being brutally murdered in the womb.

STATE SEN. GEORGE DUNGAN (R) NEBRASKA: Colleagues, we should not be in the business of telling people what they can and can't do with their bodies. And we should not be in the business of stepping between doctors and patients in circumstances like this.


BERNAL: Now, once the bill is signed by the governor, the abortion part of the bill would go into effect the following day. The gender- affirming care part of the bill, that would go into effect on October 1st. So, there is still some time for all of this. And we are of course waiting for the governor, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Camila Bernal. Thanks so much.

BERNAL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up next. Time is running out to reach a debt limit agreement as talks between the White House and the House GOP dissolved this week. What this could mean for America's economic faith and yours, next.



WHITFIELD: All right. So far, it's a dead end for the debt ceiling. Talks in the high-stakes negotiation between the White House, Republicans ended Friday. And in the last hour sources at the White House and on Capitol Hill say there are no meetings scheduled for today. That leaves the U.S. only now 12 days before potentially running out of money to pay its debts.

With me now to talk about all this is Matt Grossman. He is a business finance reporter for The Wall Street Journal. Matt, great to see you. So, help us understand all that is at stake. If the U.S. were to default on its debt, what kind of economic turmoil would it cause?

MATT GROSSMAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL BUSINESS FINANCIAL REPORTER: Yes. It would mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You have to think of households, first of all, people who rely on Social Security benefits, health care systems that get reimbursed through Medicare and Medicaid. Veterans who get government benefits. There's a lot of uncertainty as to what would happen to those payments, if we don't get a debt ceiling deal in time.

People on Wall Street who are active in financial markets are also really worried about what would happen to government debt, which is traded every day in the treasury markets and huge volumes. Supposed to be a really safe part of financial markets that you sort of don't have to worry about. So, any consideration of risk in that environment gives people a lot of fear.

WHITFIELD: Yes. It's pretty frightening. I mean, if you are relying on your veteran's, you know, benefits, a check from Veterans Affairs, you might not get it. Social Security, if you're living on your Social Security checks, you may not get it right. So, how, you know, would the average citizen, you know, perhaps you are not in those two categories, but the everyday average citizen would be impacted how?

GROSSMAN: Yes. So, a lot of that would come from what happens in markets. You know, a lot of people have retirement accounts, 401(k)s. People just, you know, invest in stocks through brokerage accounts and the debt ceiling could have a very direct impact on those areas because treasury yields or treasury bonds are kind of thought of as the bedrock of the global financial system.

It's kind of the benchmark that all other securities like stocks and corporate bonds get priced in comparison to. So, if suddenly, there's a perception that these ultra-safe securities, treasury bonds are risky at least for the time being, there's just a lot of uncertainty as to what would happen in the stock market.


Professional investors who I talked to who have been doing this for decades, so they just really don't know what the markets would look like the next day.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. And other concerns that investors and economists might share?

GROSSMAN: Yes. So, I think one potential fallout, I mean, as anyone who's been following the headlines knows, there's a lot of concern that we could already have been heading for a recession. After all, the Federal Reserve's rate increases over the last year. And there's a sudden shock to the system where people are seeing their stock portfolios go down, if people are not getting their social security checks, you could get into a situation pretty quickly where everyone is a little bit anxious about spending money.

People draw, draw back a bit and people think it could kind of be the straw that breaks the camel's back and heads us into a recession.

WHITFIELD: Right. And if a debt default were, you know, a short-lived event and the two sides quickly were to agree, you know, to lift the debt limit, you know, with a day or two. Would that still cause the same type of economic, you know, potential disaster or earthquake even?

GROSSMAN: Yes. No, it's a really good question. And, you know, people on Wall Street who I talked to are putting a lot of manpower into kind of game planning those scenarios out and trying to think through what the consequences could be. In the Treasury market, especially, it's not so transparent to everyday investors. This is an arena where banks and companies are trading billions or trillions of dollars every day that they really depend on.

So, even if that gets disrupted for 24 or 48 hours, there's a lot of uncertainty as to what the consequences could be.

WHITFIELD: OK. And I know you, as a Wall Street Journal employee have a lot of concerns about your colleague, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich who has been in Russian custody now since late March on espionage charges. Your paper and the U.S. government vehemently deny that he's a spy and say that he is being wrongfully detained. And of course, we're all hoping for his release soon.

What are your thoughts? And have you heard from his family members? And of course, maybe you and your colleagues share a very similar point of view?

GROSSMAN: Yes, of course. You know, me and my colleagues are very concerned about Evan. We're -- we admire his bravery to have been doing amazing reporting work in Russia over the last year and just like you said, we all really hope we can see him back home soon.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Our hearts go out to him. And hopefully he continues to remain strong. I'm sure. You know, it's helpful for him to know that his colleagues are hoping the best for him and praying for him.

Matt Grossman, thank you so much.


WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up. Four years after an abandoned newborn was found alive in a plastic bag, the child's birth mother is now under arrest. Details straight ahead.



WHITFIELD: All right, four years after a newborn baby was found alive wrapped in plastic and abandoned in the woods of north Georgia, an arrest has finally been made.

This was the emotional moment that officers uncovered the newborn in 2019.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard it from our house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweetheart, oh, I'm so sorry.


WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh. So the woman who police say gave birth to that baby girl is now facing several charges, including attempted murder in what has come to be the -- the baby has come to be known as Baby India, the Baby India case.

CNN's Isabel Rosales joining me now with more.

Four years, how in the world were they able to match that baby with this woman they suspect birthed it?

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been a long time. The key here has been advanced DNA.

So the sheriff, Ron Freeman, of Forsyth County, said that 10 months ago, using advanced DNA, they linked the baby to her biological father. As of a week ago, they linked the baby to the mom.

That mom, the sheriff says, is 40-year-old Karima Jiwani, who is cooperating with investigators right now.

The sheriff also saying the evidence has led them to determine that that birth likely happened inside of a car. And that the mother likely drove for a long period of time before dumping the baby at the side of the road in a wooded area.

Now the investigation revealed, the sheriff says, a history here of surprise pregnancies. The sheriff said this mom knew about this particular pregnancy, but the father, they found no evidence that the father knew of the pregnancy or of this abandonment.

Listen to what the sheriff had to say.

RON FREEMAN, SHERIFF, FORSYTH COUNTY, GA, SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: How a parent -- and I happen to be one, too -- can do such a callous thing is both incomprehensible to all of us and it's infuriating.

I'm dumbfounded by any reasoning that could be there and how someone could have the ability to leave their own child to die.


ROSALES: The sheriff sounds pretty frustrated there. He made that point several times.

Also talking about Georgia's Safe Haven law, which gives criminal immunity to a mother if she chooses to abandon the baby at a medical facility, a fire station or a police department, as long as the baby is under 30 days old.

But this is clearly not what happened in this situation.

WHITFIELD: It's sad, but it's obviously a very complicated -- there are lots of layers there but still we don't have a lot of answers.


WHITFIELD: All right, Isabel Rosales, thank you so much.

ROSALES: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Appreciate that. New details now on the case of a Utah woman, who wrote a children's

book about grieving her husband's death, only to be charged with his murder months later.


CNN's Nick Watt has more.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New insights into this marriage and its final days. 33-year-old Kouri Richins wrote a book about grief with her three boys after the sudden death of her 39- year-old husband, Eric, their father.

Now, she's accused of murdering him, apparently with a fentanyl-laced Moscow Mule cocktail.

She was promoting this book just weeks before her arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It completely took us all by shock.

WATT: Prosecutors say this was a marriage filled with behind-the-back moves and motives, that between 2015 and 2017, without Eric knowing, Kouri took out at least four insurance policies on his life, totaling nearly $2 million.

And that in late January 2022, mere months before his death, Kouri filed for a new $100,000 life insurance policy on Eric's life.

February 4th, that policy is issued. One week later, on February 11th or 12th, the defendant obtained elicit fentanyl from an acquaintance.

March 4th, 2022, Eric is found dead on the floor at the foot of his dead, a massive fentanyl overdose, according to the medical examiner.

GREG SKORDAS, RICHINS FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: He told his family that he thought she was trying to kill him. In fact, he told his family, warned his family, if something happened to him, that she should be the first person to be investigated.

WATT: March 6th, so two days after the Eric's death, the defendant arranged for a locksmith to drill Eric Richins' safe. When Eric Richins' sister questioned her authority to do so, the defendant became enraged and punched Eric Richins' sister in the face and neck.

Unbeknownst to Kouri, Eric had changed his will to give his sister control of his estate.

Investigators now say Kouri Richins, at the time of Eric's death, owed more than $2.5 million to a money lender, the IRS and to him. They say she'd taken at least $100,000 from his bank account and spent more than $30,000 on his credit cards.

SKORDAS: Right before the murder, he was thinking more and more and more about getting a divorce. WATT: Now, details of their prenup. Apparently, they had no right to

each other's present or future income, property or assets, except if Eric Richins died while the two were lawfully married.


WHITFIELD: All right, Nick Watt, thank you so much.

Still to come, they've been a driving force behind a controversial book ban and curriculum restrictions in schools. Meet the conservative activists group Moms for Liberty, next.



WHITFIELD: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' likely entry into the Republican race for the presidency next week brings a renewed spotlight on what opponents call his "Don't Say Gay" law.

It initially banned teaching Florida students about sexual orientation and gender identity through the third grade. And was expanded last month through high school. Opponents call it dangerous and vague.

It's led to book bans, that have included authors such as to Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood and Judy Blume.

And it's part of a larger conservative push on education across the country.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The state of Florida, we're proud to stand for education, not indoctrination in our schools.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Democrats believe parents shouldn't have a say in our children's education.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Parents want schools focused on reading, writing and math, not Woke politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The left is trying to hijack women's sports. And our schools are on the verge of becoming breeding grounds for liberal and progressive ideas.


WHITFIELD: DeSantis's law is also what prompted his ongoing feud with Disney.

One of the people he appointed to a board that was supposed to provide more oversight of the company was the cofounder of a group called Moms for Liberty, which has advocated for these classroom fights in districts across America.

CNN's Elle Reeve has more on who they are.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By exposing our children to adult concepts such as gender identity, we are asking them to carry a load that is much too heavy for them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Might I suggest instead of anal sex, perhaps we could go back to teaching cursive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This book is not appropriate and it is in your schools.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Moms for Liberty is a parent activist group. It began in Florida in 2021 to protest public schools being closed for COVID and mask mandates.

The group became a frequent and spicy presence at school board meetings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about more than masks for the record.

REEVE: But now there are more than 250 Moms for Liberty chapters nationwide, the group says.

And it has gained major conservative allies and morphed into something else, a campaign against supposed indoctrination of children on race and sexuality.

DARCY SCHOENING, CHAPTER CHAIR, MOMS FOR LIBERTY, EL PASO COUNTY, COLORADO: I have the right to say, I don't want my kids to learn this. I don't agree with this movement. And that's my right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So books should fall into that category as well.

REEVE: We wanted to understand what's driving these moms on a deeper level than some viral videos. So we met with the Moms for Liberty chapter in El Paso County, Colorado, where conservatives won majorities on these three school boards in 2021.


Leader Darcy Schoening let us watch a meeting where they talked about how to pressure those boards into making the policies they want.

SCHOENING: What school districts are most of you guys in?

REEVE: What Moms for Liberty has become most famous for is claiming school libraries contain books with pornographic content and for trying to get some books removed.

Some of those books listed do talk about sex. But according to the Supreme Court's definition of obscenity, they're not porn. (on-camera): I've read a lot of criticism of your group. People say that this is kind of like a moral panic, that people have an irrational fear of what's going on.

SCHOENING: We're not looking to ban books. We're not looking to burn books. We just need to get back to a system where parents know what their kids are learning, and for the most part, it's educational and not political.

REEVE: One of the books on your list is Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five." I mean, it's considered one of the classics of modern literature.

SCHOENING: Right. I read that in high school. Yes.

REEVE: Well, why would -- would you want that removed from the library?

SCHOENING: No, we don't -- again, age appropriate.

REEVE: It's on list.

SCHOENING: What might not be appropriate for a six-year-old is appropriate for a 15-year-old.

REEVE: Is someone assigning a first grader at the "Slaughterhouse- Five"?

SCHOENING: No. But again, it's the right of the parents to know that it's there, that their children have access to something that they may not have access to at home.

REEVE (voice-over): One of the big issues right now is pronouns. In March, Colorado's District 11 School Board considered a proposal to prevent teachers from asking kids their pronouns, sparking protests.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Teachers can no longer ask kids. They're pronouns. That's right. No more grooming kids with pronouns in D11.

REEVE: The school board has tabled the proposal.

(on-camera): Why is asking a child their pronouns indoctrination?

SCHOENING: If you ask my children who are seven and eight, what are your pronouns? They don't even know what that is.

So when you ask that, you're planting the seed in their minds that they maybe should identify as another gender, or that identifying as another gender is hip or cool. Hey, my teacher's asking me, so maybe this is what I should do.

REEVE: But I certainly never felt that way about my teachers. Like I didn't learn I was heterosexual from my health teacher. It was from like, watching '90s movies with Brad Pitt in it.

SCHOENING: Yes, yes. Well, and -- but -- and I think that's how most of us are.

REEVE (voice-over): We wanted to hear what some of the more liberal parents had to say. Some of them set in on the meeting and one passed me this note, calling it a hate group. The next day we met with those parents.

(on-camera): For the record, have any of your kids ever come home and said, I am feeling peer pressured to be gay or trans?


REEVE (voice-over): Naomi Lopez is a speech pathologist and works in a District 11 school.

NAOMI LOPEZ, SPEECH PATHOLOGIST: First of all, we're not going around saying, OK, you know, I want you to think about it. What gender are you?

REEVE (on-camera): Yes.

LOPEZ: Like that's not happening, period.

REEVE: They say it's happening.

LOPEZ: It's not.

My personal beliefs, my personal viewpoint on the world does not come into the classroom. We are professionals with degrees in pedagogy.

REEVE (voice-over): And she's also the mom of a transgender student.

LOPEZ: So -- I'm sorry, can you ask me again because I'm getting pissed off.

REEVE (on-camera): What -- you want to talk about that first? Why does it make you emotional to talk about this stuff?

LOPEZ: So I get emotional when other people who don't have children who are transgender or queer place an assumption on it for the sake of persecution, based on their own belief.

SCHOENING: When you're putting all this curriculum everywhere and you're telling kids, hey, come -- you could come talk to me behind your parents' back, I got your back.

I mean, there's a clear move to bring more of that into our schools, and it's just not the school's place.

REEVE: So, what I feel like you're strongly implying, and I would like to get your take on, because I don't want to attribute something that you don't think.

But to me it sounds like you're saying there's some kind of high-level coordinated effort to make more children trans and gay.

SCHOENING: Yes. REEVE: Well, who is directing that?

SCHOENING: Teachers unions and our president and a lot of funding sources. And teachers' unions are also heavily backing the curriculum that we're bringing into schools.

REEVE: Why would they want more kids to be gay and trans?

SCHOENING: Because it breaks down the family unit, which breaks down traditional conservative values. It breaks down a lot of things in this country.

It changes the way that people think. It changes the way that people handle politics.

REEVE (voice-over): Of course, there's no evidence of a coordinated plot to make kids trans.

(on-camera): When I hear those thoughts about like some sort of concerted effort to make people gay, does it sound like a conspiracy theory to you?


SCHOENING: It's not a conspiracy theory that the state, whether you're talking about Colorado or the federal government, is taking a stronger and stronger hand in public education in raising our kids.

So do I think that for some reason people want everyone to be gay? That's a mischaracterization of what I think.

I think that people will use -- you know, the people that want to erode away at parental rights, the left, the teachers' unions, they'll use LGBTQ or whatever may be the case at the time. Those are just tools to erode away at parental rights.

REEVE (voice-over): The last D11 meeting of the school year was mostly about student awards and performances. The board seemed to anticipate the few Moms for Liberty members in the crowd.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As we reflect over the last year, removing rogue Woke clubs, teachers, Woke teachers and Woke counselors from D11 is a must.

REEVE: And a couple of students push back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you remove teacher's ability to ask for pronouns, you'll remove the ability for safe spaces to exist, taking away the safety of your students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to recognize our students and the support staff that are supporting our students out there.

LOPEZ: My child thinks it's ludicrous that it's such a big deal because to them it's just normal. To their friends, they don't care how my child identifies. They love them for who they are. REEVE: Elle Reeve, CNN, Colorado Springs, Colorado.




WHITFIELD: All right. On the hard court, a basketball star was welcomed back with a standing ovation to the WNBA last night. Brittney Griner played her first game since her release from a Russian prison.

CNN's Andy Scholes has the highlights.


ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, Fred, just six months after getting out of that Russian prison, Brittney Griner was back on the court, this her first official game since October of 2021. She played well.

Griner along with her Phoenix Mercury teammates getting a pep talk from Vice President Harris before the game and the eight-time all-star getting a standing ovation from the crowd as she was introduced.

Griner right away making her first shot. She went seven for nine from the field, scored 18 points. Her Mercury, though, would lose to the Sparks 94-71.


BRITTNEY GRINER, WNBA PLAYER: It was nice to be back on court, you know, in a real game and everything. The love from the fans when I came out was amazing. The players, you know, I definitely feel it. I definitely felt it. I felt it when I was over there still.


SCHOLES: Celtics trying to even their series with the Heat last night. They had a nine-point lead after Grant Williams hit this three. He was pumped up and had some things to say to Jimmy Butler going up the court.

But that was probably a bad idea because that lit a fire under playoff Jimmy. He would hit multiple shots with Williams guarding him, leading the Heat on a 24-9 run to close the game. Butler finished with 27 points.

Now, Jayson Tatum had 34 points through the first three-quarters but then went 0 for 3 with two turnovers in the fourth as Miami shocked the Boston crowd, winning again 111-105.

And Butler was asked afterwards about Williams, talking a little trash to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY BUTLER, MIAMI HEAT PLAYER: It makes me smile. It does. I mean, when people talk to me, I'm, like, OK, I know I'm a decent player, if you want to talk to me out of everybody you can talk to.

But I don't know. It's just competition. I do respect him, though. He's a big part of what they try to do. He switches. He can shoot the ball. I just don't know if I'm the best person to talk to.


SCHOLES: That loss really bad news for the Celtics. The Miami Heat 17- 0 all time when taking a 2-0 lead in a series.

The Western Conference finals continue today in L.A. The Lakers down 0-2 in that series, making this one basically a must-win against the Nuggets.

After a quadruple overtime thriller in game one in the Eastern Conference final, the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights gave fans a little more free hockey on Friday night.

But this one did not last near as long, just 1:35 into overtime. Brent Houden scoring the game-winner. This is the first overtime goal of his career, first game-winner he's had all season.

Came at a good time. Vegas wins 4-3. Game two Sunday in Las Vegas.

The Stanley Cup playoffs continue. Later tonight, the Hurricanes and Panthers take the ice for game two, face-off at 8:00 Eastern on TNT.

And, Fred, we'll see what kind of energy the Hurricanes and Panthers have later on tonight after playing nearly six hours of hockey on Thursday night.


WHITFIELD: Well, no matter what, it's going to be exciting.

Thank you so much, Andy Scholes.

In a new episode of "THE 2010s," we look back at Barack Obama's historic presidency and the defining moments that shaped the decades of politics.

Here is a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had an interview with him and we were talking about race. And it was very clear to me that he was being delicate in the extreme.

Interview ended. He walks out of the Oval Office, goes down the hall, then he turns all the way back and says, "Look, you have to understand, when I talk about race, it just changes everything. And it can be explosive if I'm not incredibly precise." [13:59:56]

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama is a case study of navigating the third rail in American politics, race.

Over time, what you see is Obama finding his voice in that space --