Story at a glance
- Christina Pushaw, the press secretary of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, over the weekend likened opponents to the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill to pedophiles and said the bill would be aptly titled the “anti-grooming” bill.
- Pushaw’s comments come just before the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which is officially titled the Parental Rights in Education bill, is set for a full floor vote in the Senate.
- Florida Democrats and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups were quick to criticize Pushaw, who told the publication Florida Politics that “pedophiles groom kids by talking to them about sex.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R) longtime press secretary Christina Pushaw over the weekend tweeted that she believed educating children about sex leaves them vulnerable to abuse and likened opponents to the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill moving through the state legislature to pedophiles.
“The bill that liberals inaccurately call ‘Don’t Say Gay’ would be more accurately described as an Anti-Grooming Bill,” Pushaw wrote Friday on Twitter.
“If you’re against the Anti-Grooming bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8 year old children,” she wrote in another tweet. “Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”
Pushaw’s comments come just before the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which is officially titled the Parental Rights in Education bill, is set for a full floor vote in the Senate, where it is expected to pass. The legislation, which has been condemned by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, Hollywood and the White House, would prevent primary school teachers from talking to their students about gender identity or sexual orientation.
Should the bill pass in the Senate, it would head to DeSantis’s desk. The governor has not yet indicated whether he would sign the bill into law but has said he supports it.
Florida Democrats were quick to denounce Pushaw’s comments and called on action from DeSantis.
“Less than 5 weeks ago I sent a letter to Governor DeSantis when his spokeswoman Christina Pushaw politicized Nazis demonstrating in Orlando by questioning their motives calling for him to take action. Today, she posted a meritless tweet where she alluded to multiple openly gay members of the legislature being pedophiles,” state Sen. Annette Taddeo said Sunday in a statement.
“This pattern of posting reckless, unfounded allegations warrants action by the Governor,” she said.
“Bigoted attacks like this against LGBTQ people are the worst of the worst,” state Rep. Carlos G. Smith (D), who is gay, wrote Sunday on Twitter in response to Pushaw’s comments, adding that Pushaw “must resign.”
Democratic state Sen. Shevrin Jones, who is also openly gay, said that DeSantis “personally owes millions of Floridians an explanation as to why his spokesperson — whose salary is paid wholly with tax dollars — believes it is acceptable to label opponents to this bigoted bill as ‘groomers,’ a code word for pedophiles.”
In a statement, the advocacy group Equality Florida called Pushaw’s tweets a “bigoted anti-LGBTQ rant.”
“Governor DeSantis’ spokesperson said the quiet part out loud: that this bill is grounded in a belief that LGBTQ people, simply by existing, are a threat to children and must be erased,” a portion of the statement reads. “Make no mistake — this is a tacit announcement from the Governor that he supports the true intent of the Don’t Say Gay bill: the erasure of LGBTQ people.”
Pushaw told the publication Florida Politics that she believes “talking to kids about sex” falls well-within her definition of “grooming.”
“There is no reason for 3- to 8-year-olds to learn about sex in school, and anyone who wants to teach kids that young about sex — particularly over parental objections — is creating an environment where grooming can easily occur,” she wrote to Florida Politics in a text message.
“Pedophiles groom kids by talking to them about sex,” she added.
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