Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is aiming to expand the state’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law, officially known as the Parental Rights in Education Act, such that it would apply to public school classrooms from pre-K through grade 12.
The existing law, which was enacted last year, prohibits discussion or classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for public school students from kindergarten through third grade.
The Orlando Sentinel first reported the proposal to expand the statute, which was made at the behest of Florida’s DeSantis appointed and avowedly anti-LGBTQ Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr.
Exemptions are carved out in cases where otherwise prohibited materials are included in existing state standards or constitute part of reproductive health instruction, provided that parents or students are able to opt-out.
Asked for a reaction to DeSantis’s proposed expansion of the “Don’t Say Gay” law during a press briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spoke out against the move by the Florida Governor:
“Yeah. It’s wrong. It’s completely, utterly wrong. And we’ve been crystal clear about that, when it comes to the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill and other — other actions that this governor has taken in the state of Florida.”
But make no mistake, this is a part of a disturbing and dangerous trend that we’re seeing across the country of legislations that are anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans, anti the community in a way that we have not seen it in some time. And so — and it’s not just the LGBTQI+ community. We’re talking about students. We’re talking about educators. We’re talking about, just, individuals.”
The President has been very clear, this administration has been very clear: We will continue to fight for the dignity of — of Americans, for the dignity and respect of the community, of opportunity that should be given to students and families in Florida and across the country.”
So, again, this is just plain wrong, and we’re going to continue to speak against — speak out against it,” Jean-Pierre said.
Brandon Wolf, Press Secretary for Equality Florida, the largest state-wide LGBTQ equality rights and advocacy organization, released the following statement:
“After a year’s worth of gaslighting and assurances that the Don’t Say LGBTQ law was narrowly focused, the DeSantis Administration is now saying the quiet part out loud: they believe that it is never appropriate to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ people, or our contributions to society, in schools. This time, the governor is placing the crosshairs squarely on individual educators, threatening their professional licenses for making mention of the LGBTQ community in any grade level.
The Board of Education’s proposed rule would see more books with LGBTQ characters ripped from school shelves, more discussion of diverse families muzzled, and further character assassination of hardworking teachers in Florida. Free states don’t ban books. Free states don’t censor communities out of classrooms. Free states don’t copy/paste their political agendas from the likes of Vladimir Putin.”
This proposed rule is yet more government power being perverted to serve Ron DeSantis’ desperation to run for President. And its consequences will weigh most heavily on those who have already been forced to bear the brunt of his insatiable lust for power.“
Equality Florida also noted that while the DeSantis Administration has rejected requests to clarify the law’s vague, unconstitutional language, its proposal would add legal liability for individual educators, threatening their professional licenses for violations. The proposed rule is scheduled for a vote by the State Board of Education at their meeting on April 19 in Tallahassee.
DeSantis is considering a run for the presidency and has made culture war issues the forefront of his administration’s policies.
Former openly gay Florida Democratic State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith tweeted: “It was never, ever, ever, ever about kindergarten thru 3rd grade. It was always about demonizing us and censoring LGBTQ people out of existence in our schools.”
Story courtesy of the Washington Blade via the National LGBTQ Media Association. The National LGBTQ Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: https://nationallgbtmediaassociation.com/