White House condemns Florida bill to bar talk of sexual orientation in schools

Associated Press/Alex Brandon

The White House on Tuesday condemned a bill making its way through the Florida legislature that would prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in the state’s primary schools.

“Every parent … hopes that our leaders will ensure their [children’s] safety, protection and freedom, and today conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack kids who need that support the most, kids from LGBTQI+ community,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing with reporters.

“Make no mistake, this is not an isolated action in Florida,” she continued. “Across the country, we’re seeing Republican leaders taking action to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be. This is who these kids are, and these legislators are trying to make it harder for them to be who they are.”

Psaki, when asked why the administration was weighing in on state legislation, said the White House felt it was important to speak out against the Florida law.

The Parental Rights in Education law, which critics have described as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, would bar discussion of sexual orientation in elementary schools across the state. Republicans argue the discussion of LGBTQ issues is not age appropriate for those students.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday appeared to voice support for the law, which recently passed the state Senate’s Education Committee.

“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write. 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,” DeSantis said, calling it inappropriate for teachers to be discussing gender identity with their students at such a young age.

The bill, which follows a wave of anti-transgender legislation in GOP-led legislatures, has been criticized by parents in the state and LGBTQ activists.

Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, warned last month that the bill “will kill kids,” citing the high rate of suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth.

Tags Don't Say Gay bill Florida Florida education Jen Psaki Parental Rights in Education law Pete Buttigieg Ron DeSantis

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