Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has responded to criticism of a bill that would ban schools from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with students in third grade and younger, contending that the media and the legislation’s opponents are spreading “false narratives.”
At the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City Monday, the Republican governor responded to a question from WFLA reporter Evan Donovan about HR 1557, “an act relating to parental rights in education.”
The bill would ban “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation and gender identity” for kindergarten through third-grade students. Donovan prefaced the question by noting that critics refer to the legislation as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” a characterization that DeSantis took issue with.
“Does it say that in the bill?” DeSantis repeatedly asked.
When Donovan declined to answer the question, DeSantis told the reporter that “you are pushing false narratives” about the bill, insisting that “it doesn’t matter what critics say.”
When Donovan highlighted the ban on sexual orientation and gender identity discussions, DeSantis asked, “for who?” The governor answered his question, declaring, “For grades Pre-K through 3.”
“The idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says, it’s why people don’t trust people like you because you peddle false narratives,” the 43-year-old insisted. “We’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum.”
Seven House Republicans joined all House Democrats in opposing HR 1557, while two Senate Republicans did the same. The bill now awaits a signature from DeSantis, who has supported the bill.
Democratic critics argue that the bill could further stigmatize LGBT students and contend schools should serve as places to discuss such topics with children.
“Instead of coming up with these vague bills, why are we not supporting the most inclusive, tolerant education and, and society that we can?” state Sen. Tina Polsky said during Monday’s debate on the bill, according to ABC News.
The bill’s supporters maintain that discussions about sexuality, especially at younger ages, should be handled by parents, not teachers.
The Christian Family Coalition Florida, an organization that has advocated for HR 1557, issued a statement to The Christian Post describing the Senate’s passage of the legislation as “a huge victory for parental rights.”
In a tweet last week, DeSantis’ Press Secretary Christina Pushaw characterized HR 1557 as an “Anti-Grooming Bill.”
In a statement to local news outlet 10 Tampa Bay, Pushaw indicated that she came up with the term “Anti-Grooming Bill” herself, asserting that DeSantis has never used the phrase. At the same time, she maintained that “For ages 3-9, classroom instruction on sexual topics is not developmentally appropriate, and it’s difficult to understand why anyone would disagree.”
Florida Senate Democrats, in an effort to advance the narrative that HR 1557 amounts to a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, posted a video of a group of lawmakers walking down the hall of the Florida Capitol building Monday. They chanted the word “gay” and proclaimed things like “my daughter’s gay” to the tune of “Smoke on the Water.”
High School students in Winter Park, located just outside Orlando, staged a walkout protesting the legislation. Participants in the protest shouted “We say gay” and carried signs and rainbow flags.
We’ve got one thing to say to our GOP colleagues — GAY! pic.twitter.com/AiXzW0chUq— Florida Senate Democrats (@FLSenateDems) March 7, 2022
As HR 1557 has gained traction, the U.S. Department of Education has expressed its disapproval of the legislation.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona released a statement Tuesday condemning the Florida bill as one of several “hateful bills that hurt some of the students most in need.”
“The Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” he added. “We stand with our LGBTQ+ students in Florida and across the country, and urge Florida leaders to make sure all their students are supported and protected.”
On the other hand, some conservatives argue that the bill does not go far enough.
In an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Tuesday, blogger Matt Walsh insisted that the ban on instructing students about sexual orientation and gender identity “shouldn’t stop at [grade] three.” Walsh believers “[t]here shouldn’t be that kind of ‘instruction’ by teachers at any grade.”
“There’s never a time … when a teacher needs to sit down with kids and tell them that … ‘you’re a boy but you might actually be a girl.’ That’s never appropriate,” Walsh, a critic of the transgender movement, argues.
Parents across the U.S. have expressed concern about the sexually charged curriculum and books students are exposed to in both public and private schools.
Video footage obtained by Breitbart reveals that a 2020 conference for the National Association of Independent Schools, a group of private schools, touted a sex education curriculum at one of its schools that taught pre-kindergarten students about gender identity, sexual orientation and gender expression.
Last month, public schools across the U.S. participated in the annual Jazz & Friends National Day of School and Community Readings, where adults read books promoting transgenderism to young children. One of the books listed as recommended reading for students in kindergarten through second grade is titled CALVIN: Time To Be ME! The book tells the story of a biologically female child “who has always been a boy even if the world sees him as a girl.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com