White House: Biden monitoring ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, encourages discrimination complaints
President Biden’s Department of Education will be monitoring Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which went into effect on Friday, and encourages people to file discrimination complaints, according to the White House.
“Any student or parent who believes they are experiencing discrimination is encouraged to file a complaint with the Department’s Office for Civil Rights. Our Administration will continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family—in Florida and around the country,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Biden on Friday said that the Department of Education will use its power to protect students in the wake of the new law.
“Legislators shouldn’t be in the business of censoring educators, and @usedgov will do all in its power to protect students,” the president said on Twitter.
Jean-Pierre, in her statement, said Biden has been clear that every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom, and she called the law “discrimination, plain and simple.”
Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which is known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibits public primary school teachers from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Jean-Pierre argued that the law does not involve “parents’ rights.” Supporters of the law argue that it seeks to strengthen the role of parents in their children’s education and shield children from classroom “indoctrination.”
“It’s part of a disturbing and dangerous nationwide trend of right-wing politicians cynically targeting LGBTQI+ students, educators, and individuals to score political points,” Jean-Pierre said.
She also argued that the bill encourages bullying, threatens the mental health and physical safety of students and censors teachers. Jean-Pierre is the first Black and openly LGBT woman to serve as White House press secretary.
“As the state’s shameful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect, state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves,” she said.
The law was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in March, sparking outrage including from the Walt Disney Co., which has been embroiled in a public feud with DeSantis. Biden has slammed the bill, calling it hateful and vowing to fight for protections for LGBT students.
To mark Pride Month, Biden signed a sweeping executive order in June that aims to protect LGBT youth from a raft of conservative state laws, like the law in Florida.
The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to release new guidance for states on how to expand access to comprehensive health care for LGBT patients and orders the Education Department to release a sample school policy that is inclusive of LGBT students.
Updated: 3:36 p.m.