Respect Equality

Rubio defends ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill: ‘Raising kids is the job of parents and families, not schools’

(John Raoux/Associated Press)

Story at a glance

  • Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) on Monday said it is “ridiculous” that Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill is being referred to by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
  • Under the bill, classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity would be heavily restricted.
  • Rubio echoed the arguments of others who support the controversial legislation, claiming that it only seeks to strengthen the role of parents in their children’s education.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) on Monday defended Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, denouncing its critics for calling the controversial piece of legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“To call it ‘Don’t Say Gay’, which is what people have done, is ridiculous. That’s not what the bill is about at all,” Rubio said Monday during an interview with the ABC-affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa. “The bill basically says that sexual orientation is just not something schools should be talking to children about.”

Under the bill, which was passed last week by the state legislature, Florida primary school teachers would be prevented from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Educators of all grade levels would be restricted from addressing those topics within school walls in a way that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for their students.

The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk, where it is expected to be signed into law and take effect July 1.


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Rubio, who served as the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2008, on Monday questioned why teachers in Florida were even addressing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom at all.

“We send our kids to school to learn how to read, to learn how to write, to learn about history, to acquire academic proficiency,” he said. “We don’t send kids to school so the schools can raise our kids, we send them so they can teach them. Raising kids is the job of parents and families, not schools. And so that’s what that bill does.”

“Schools are not about raising children,” he said. “They’re about teaching children.”

Similar arguments have been made by those who support the bill, which is also known as House Bill 1557.

“I’m trying to strengthen parents’ role in this relationship,” state Sen. Dennis Baxley (R) said last week during a reading of the bill. “And it’s time to give them some strength.”

Just before the bill’s passage through the state House late last month, its sponsor, Rep. Joe Harding (R), argued that the bill would provide much-needed boundaries for school districts in discussing certain topics with children.

“I believe in the idea that creating boundaries at an early age of what is appropriate in our schools — when we are funding our schools — is not hate,” he said.

Meanwhile, international media outlets, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, Hollywood actors and even the White House have condemned the law as hateful and discriminatory.

“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,” President Biden wrote last month on Twitter. “I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”

On Monday, Rubio claimed that those opposed to the bill “want to turn our schools into a place to raise children.”


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