Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hit back Friday against misrepresentations of the state’s new bill prohibiting instruction on LGBTQ topics to young children.
Critics have labeled HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” accusing Republicans of endangering LGBTQ youth by outing them to their parents or preventing them from learning about their sexuality. DeSantis pushed back on this framing during a press briefing on Friday.
“You actually look at the bill, and it says, ‘no sexual instruction in grades Pre-K through 3,’” he explained. “And so, how many parents want their kindergarteners to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction? And so, I think those are very young kids. I think the legislature is basically trying to give parents assurance that they’re gonna be able to go, and this stuff’s not gonna be there.”
The governor insisted that the bill is protecting young children from being taught about sexual topics.
“Clearly, right now, we see a lot of focus on the transgenderism – telling kids that they may be able to pick genders and all that,” he said. “I don’t think parents want that for these young kids, and so I think that’s what they were trying to do, and I think that’s justifiable.”
“I think it’s inappropriate to be injecting those matters, like transgenderism, into a kindergarten classroom,” he continued. “At the same time, if you oppose that, you have a responsibility to be honest about it … you can create a false narrative, you can stage a protest, you can do all those things, but you’re not telling the truth about what’s actually there.”
DeSantis pointed out the discrepancies between what is actually in the bill and what has been reported about the bill.
“…there’s this massive gulf between what it actually says with respect to these very young kids versus what some of these protests in the capital or whatever are about,” he said. “And I get it, if you are intentionally just trying to create a political narrative and you know it’s not true, but you still do it, that’s unfortunately the world we live in.”
“But I do feel that there’s some people who haven’t read it and who are actually accepting some of the narratives whole cloth,” he added. “Be very, very careful. When you see that eco system starting to spin up narratives, be very, very careful about accepting any of that whole cloth.”
Americans have seen many things over the past couple of years that have led them to be skeptical, DeSantis said, noting that if HB 1557 is presented to him radically changed, he’ll have to consider “what it is.”
“But to provide protections for parents for preschoolers, kindergartners, first-graders, that is something that I think most parents, you know, would appreciate it,” he concluded. “We send the kids to school, young kids, we want them to learn the basics. Some of these issues that are just simply not age appropriate, I think parents want to see protection for [them].”