Florida Governor Signs Controversial Education Bill Into Law
Governor DeSantis signed a Florida education bill into law today that has drawn nationwide attention for its contraversial verbiage.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just made good on his promise to sign the controversial Florida Education Bill. Dubbed by many in the state and across the nation as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, it will go into effect beginning the 2022-23 school year. The Parental Rights in Education bill’s focus, which is what’s causing all the controversy, is on prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual identity or orientation in grades kindergarten through third grade. The new bill also states that these discussions or instruction can be had with older students if it is age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.
Concerns were immediately raised when the Florida Education bill was introduced to the state’s legislature. Critics have said that the bill targets LGBTQ+ students or those who have LGBTQ+ parents. LGBTQ+ advocates, Democrats, the White House, and even the Hollywood elite and the entertainment industry have come out against the bill. Once again, though, Gov. DeSantis explained his stance and the need for the bill.
“This is inappropriate for kindergarteners and first-graders and second graders, parents do not want this going on in their schools,” DeSantis said via CBS Miami 4 before he put pen to paper. During his speech prior to signing the bill, DeSantis first spoke about another important part of the new Florida Education bill that revolved around the health care services offered at public schools.
The Florida Governor, who is expected to make a Presidential run in 2024, first focused then listed off six school districts in his state that had “policies to cut parents out of decisions regarding their child’s well-being and to shield them [parents] from knowing about various forms of mental health services.” After naming the districts, DeSantis then added, “Martin County also had a gender transition plan that can be implemented without the parents’ consent.” To add one more layer of protection for parents, the new Florida Education bill will also allow parents to sue school districts that are not following this new law.
DeSantis then went to visual examples of what has been seen in Florida public schools as well as schools across the country. “We’ve also found cases where school districts and individual schools took it upon themselves to decide it’s okay to sexualize the education of very young children.” DeSantis then took out a large cardboard poster cutout of the Gingerbread Person to show just what young students are being taught. “This is trying to sow doubt about kids, about their gender identity. It’s trying to say that they can be whatever they want to be.”
Democrats and other opponents of the bill point to the Florida Education bill’s vague language as a major issue. They say the phrases such as “classroom instruction” and “age-appropriate” can be used in just about any circumstance and could open up unnecessary legal action. “The bill’s intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from any grade level,” claimed state Rep. Carlos G. Smith via Yahoo. Smith is a Democrat who is gay. “Even worse, #DontSayGay sends a hateful message to our most vulnerable youth who simply need our support.”
Across the state, students staged walkouts in protest. The Walt Disney Company suspended state political donations, and theme park workers in the state also staged walkouts because the Mouse House CEO Bob Chapek wasn’t immediate in his response to the Florida Education bill. Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar said, “This bill is based on a falsehood, and that falsehood is that somehow we’re teaching kids inappropriate topics at an early age, and clearly we’re not.”
Republican Rep. Joe Harding sponsored the bill and like Gov. DeSantis, pushed back against critics of the Florida Education bill. He said the new bill would not stop spontaneous discussions from taking place that concerned gender identity or sexual orientation. He said the bill only prevents school districts from including these topics in the school curriculum. Nadine Smith, Equality Florida’s executive director, begs to differ.
“DeSantis has damaged our state’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place for all families, he has made us a laughing stock and target of national derision. Worse, he has made schools less safe for children,” Smith said to CBS News in a written statement. “Equality Florida will defend the rights of all students to have a healthy environment to learn and thrive and for all parents to know their families are included and respected. This law will not stand and we will work to see it removed either by the courts as unconstitutional or repealed by the legislature.”
Gov. DeSantis not only took exception to Smith, but he also took exception to Hollywood’s response to the Florida Education bill. He immediately went for the jugular when asked about Hollywood’s reaction to bringing up the disgraced movie producer, Harvey Weinstein. He said those in Hollywood were the same people who supported and upheld Weinstein. “If those are the types of people who are opposing us on parents’ rights, I wear that like a badge of honor,” DeSantis said.