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Florida’s cruel anti-LGBT+ governor Ron DeSantis endorses hateful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Maggie Baska February 8, 2022
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Ron DeSantis wears a suit and tie during a press conference

Florida governor Ron DeSantis said it's “entirely inappropriate” for schools to have conversations with students about LGBT+ identities. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

Viciously anti-LGBT+ Florida governor Ron DeSantis has seemingly backed a bill that would ban discussions about LGBT+ identities in the classroom.

The Republican governor said during an appearance in Miami that it was “entirely inappropriate” for teachers and school officials to have conversations with students about their gender identity or sexual orientation.

He also claimed that there have been “instances” in some schools where children have been told to not “pick your gender yet”, CBS Miami reported.

“We’ve seen instances of students being told by different folks in school, ‘Oh, well, don’t worry, don’t pick your gender yet, do all this other stuff’,” DeSantis said. “They won’t tell the parents about these discussions that are happening.”

He continued: “That is entirely inappropriate.”

But he also acknowledged that these alleged instances aren’t “happening here in large numbers”. He then went on to declare that schools should be teaching kids about reading, writing, science, history and an “understanding of the US Constitution”.

Because he believed these subjects make up a “basic” understanding of “what makes our country unique”.

According to CNN, this is the first time that Ron DeSantis has publicly signalled his support for an effort by conservative lawmakers to ban conversations in schools about LGBT+ people.

House Bill (HB 1557), which has been dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, would prevent Florida schools from encouraging classroom discussion about LGBT+ people in “primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.

Under the legislation, parents would also be able to sue schools should teachers or school administrators discuss gender identity and sexuality with students.

HB 1557 has advanced from the House’s education and employment committee and needs approval from the judiciary committee before it could go to the House floor.

A similar Senate measure (SB 1834) is currently scheduled for a hearing in the Senate education committee.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis holds up his arms during a press conference
Florida governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at the Miami Dade College’s North Campus on 26 January 2022 in Miami, Florida. (Getty/Joe Raedle)

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, slammed DeSantis for empathising with the anti-LGBT+ legislative in a statement posted on Facebook.

She said that DeSantis is “taking a page” from anti-LGBT+ crusader “Anita Bryant’s playbook” by using hateful legislation “as a springboard to serve his national political ambitions”.

“From banning books and electronic monitoring of teachers to white-washing history and allowing the state to dictate our health care decisions, DeSantis is committed to an agenda of censorship and surveillance that intrudes on all aspects of our lives,” Smith said.

She continued: “His political agenda is driven not by the real pressing needs of our state but his desire to peel away Trump supporters as the two Floridians jockey for the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

“He is willing to inflict harm on the most vulnerable in our state in order to shore up his extremist base.”

Ron DeSantis did not explicitly say that he would sign the controversial bill should it reach his desk, but it would not be the first time that he has supported anti-LGBT+ legislation.

Last summer, the Florida governor signed into law a cruel bill banning trans youth from being able to play on school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

He also said he would “for sure” sign legislation banning gender-affirming surgeries for young trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming young people should it land on his desk.

DeSantis vetoed crucial funding for programmes that provided mental health support for survivors of the horrific Pulse nightclub massacre just days before the fifth anniversary of the deadly event.

More: Florida, Homophobia, Ron DeSantis

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