The White House on Tuesday slammed Florida Republicans over a proposal to ban discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in the state's schools.
A White House spokesperson weighed in on the legislation, dubbed by activists as the “Don't Say Gay” bill, shortly after a GOP-controlled committee approved the measure.
“Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection, and freedom. Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most – LGBTQI+ students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and violence just for being themselves," the White House statement read.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled support for the bill, NBC News reports. He said it was "entirely inappropriate" for teachers to be having conversations with students about gender identity, when he was asked by reporters at a Miami event Monday. He cited 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 bill states that "a school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students." Parents could sue a school district for violations.
The measure, which has also been introduced in the state House of Representatives, has drawn widespread condemnation from activist groups who argue it would marginalize LGBTQ children and families and stifle discussions about LGBTQ history. Both bills are still in the committee phase.
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Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley, who sponsored the proposal, told lawmakers in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday that the bill wouldn't forbid spontaneous discussions but would bar districts from incorporating LGBTQ topics into curriculum.
“Some discussions are for with your parents. And I think when you start opening sexual-type discussions with children, you're entering a very dangerous zone,” Baxley said.