President Biden condemned a pending piece of Florida legislation that is designed to limit young students’ exposure to conversations about gender and sexual orientation before they’ve matured.
While proponents believe it’s important to protect children’s innocence, Biden interpreted it as a bigoted attack on gay kids.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” he tweeted Tuesday. “I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
He retweeted an earlier post from the White House slamming the bill that read: “Today, conservative politicians in Florida advanced legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids. Instead of making growing up harder for young people,
@POTUS is focused on keeping schools open and supporting students’ mental health.”
The bill, which was approved by the Senate Education Committee, says that schools “may not encourage 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.”
Republican State Senator Dennis Baxley, who spearheaded the bill, told Fox News it simply ensures that teachers avoid a sensitive subject that’s better left to parents in the early stages of childhood development. He suggested it’s a red flag when instructors jump into sexual education so early on with kids.
“Some discussions are for (having) with your parents,” Baxley said. “And I think when you start having sexual-type discussions with children, you’re entering a very dangerous zone. Your awareness should pop up right away, this isn’t teaching.”
Baxley assures critics that the bill doesn’t prohibit private conversations between students and teachers about sex and gender and applies only to “procedures” and “curriculum.” But some Democratic state legislators in Florida remain unconvinced, concerned gay students will be left in a vulnerable position.
“So, I think the challenge here (is) when you put words on paper in a bill, it makes it really difficult to distinguish between private discussions as a friend with a teacher and what you’re saying, they have to call the parent or they’re going to get sued,” Democratic state Senator Tina Polsky agreed told News4Jax. “I would encourage a look back at these words, because I don’t think it’s making it clear what you’re trying to get at.”
Much like the critical race theory and mask wars sweeping the nation, Governor Ron DeSantis said the debate is chiefly about parental rights. There’s an enforcement mechanism in the bill that would allow parents to sue school districts over violations.
“I think that what you’ve seen in Florida, parts of the country, is schools keeping parents out of these decisions,” DeSantis said at a press conference Tuesday. “And I don’t see how you can do that.”
“I also think one of the things that I think the legislature is getting at is everything should be age-appropriate,” he added. “My goal is to educate kids on the subjects, math, reading, science, all the things that are so important. I don’t want the schools to kind of be a playground for ideological disputes.”
DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw echoed this point, noting that the bill isn’t a blanket ban on any talk about these topics in K-12. “There is nothing in this bill preventing anyone from ‘saying gay’…It’s about age-appropriate education on gender and sexual orientation,” she told Fox News.