By: George William
NBC reports that Gov. Ron DeSantis voiced his support for a bill that would prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s primary schools without parents foreknowledge.
Asked by reporters at a Miami event Monday, he said it was “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to be having conversations with students about gender identity, citing instances of them telling children, “Don’t worry, don’t pick your gender yet,” and also “hiding” classroom lessons from parents.
“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis 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 added.
But the measure’s opponents contend the bill would be detrimental to the mental health of the state’s LGBTQ children and teachers, preventing them from openly talking about themselves and their families.
“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,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement. “This is politics at its worse, cynically using our students as pawns in political warfare.”
State Rep. Joe Harding, who introduced the bill, said during a committee hearing last month that the measure would not prevent students from discussing their families, according to WFLA-TV, an NBC affiliate in Tampa. He added that teachers would not be prohibited from lessons on LGBTQ history, including discussing the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.
But some LGBTQ advocates are not placated.
Slamming DeSantis on Monday, the advocacy group Equality Florida argued that he is “using anti-LGBTQ legislation as a springboard to serve his national political ambitions.”
“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 jockey for the 2024 GOP presidential primary,” the group wrote on Twitter. “He is willing to inflict harm on the most vulnerable in FL in order to shore up his extremist base.”