Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled his support for a bill that would prevent teachers in his state’s schools from teaching about gender identity to minors.
It may appear to be common sense to some, but not to the White House and others who has dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.
He was asked about the bill by reporters on Monday where he said he believes it is “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to talk about gender identity or sexual orientation with students. He said there were instances of teachers telling students, “Don’t worry, don’t pick your gender yet,” and “hiding” classroom lessons from parents, NBC News reported.
“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” the governor said. “They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic stuff.”
“The larger issue with all of this is parents must have a seat at the table when it comes to what’s going on in their schools,” he said.
Although DeSantis stopped short of committing to sign the bill into law, it was the first time the Republican governor signaled his support for the measure since it was proposed by the state’s House of Representatives last month.
Echoing DeSantis, proponents of the Parental Rights in Education bill — dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — argue that discussions about LGBTQ issues are “not age-appropriate” for students.
And following the governor’s comments, a nearly identical state Senate version of the bill passed Florida’s Senate Education Committee on Tuesday along party lines.
President Joe Biden attacked the bill in a tweet.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are. I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve,” he said.
The White House has derided the bill as something that would harm LGBTQ kids and families.
“Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection, and freedom,” a spokesperson said. “Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most — LGBTQI+ students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and violence just for being themselves. But make no mistake — this is not an isolated action. Across the country, we’re seeing Republican leaders take actions to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be. This is politics at its worse, cynically using our students as pawns in political warfare. At every step of the way, Republicans have peddled in cheap, political attacks, instead of focusing on the issues parents, students, and teachers care about.
“Instead of making growing up even harder for our young people, President Biden and his administration are focused on keeping schools open, providing resources to combat learning loss, and supporting students’ mental health. The difference in leadership could not be more stark, and the Biden-Harris administration will not shy away from holding leaders accountable for dangerous actions that hurt our nation’s students,” they argued.
“Just imagine what it would feel like to be a kid watching the leaders in your state bully you through legislation that tries to erase your existence. These types of attacks are the root cause of the mental health crisis that LGBTQI+ face. The president wants LGBTQI+ young people who may be feeling scared or alone because of these legislative attacks to know that they are loved exactly for who they are, and that he won’t stop fighting for the protections and safety they deserve,” the spokesperson said.