President Biden slams Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill as it becomes law

Joe Biden
Joe Biden (Photo: Gage Skidmore, via CC BY-S.A. 2.0)

Florida’s controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, otherwise known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, HB 1557, officially took effect on July 1st.

Aimed at schools, it seeks to ban the discussion of LGBTQ topics mainly at the primary grade level. However, it will also limit discussion when “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis at the end of March and took effect Friday. President Joe Biden was one the most high-profile people to take the opportunity to again criticize it. In February, the President blasted it as “hateful”.

On Friday, Biden tweeted, “Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect today – the latest attempt by Republicans in state houses to target LGBTQI+ students, teachers, and families. Legislators shouldn’t be in the business of censoring educators, and @usedgov will do all in its power to protect students.”

Related: Ron DeSantis signs Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

In Florida, GOP Governor Ron DeSantis celebrated the bill becoming law with a tweet posted yesterday.

“Florida law now officially prohibits injecting sexuality and gender ideology into elementary school curriculum. In Florida, we will protect our kids and support our parents.”

Many others on the far right of the GOP also celebrated the bill becoming law. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene reshared DeSantis’s tweet, saying, “This is the way. Protect children from this evil gender confusion lie that is being forced on them.”

Most LGBTQ advocates have blasted ‘Don’t Say Gay’ for the impact it will have on LGBTQ students and the children of same-sex parents. Equality Florida has called the potential effects of the legislation “chilling”.

The vagueness of the law had left some school districts struggling with exactly how to implement it. Last week, we reported on how teachers in Orange County, FL have been told to scrape off rainbow stickers from classrooms, and remove photos of their families from their desks if they have a same-sex spouse.

Related: Florida teachers get new marching orders as “Don’t Say Gay” law goes into effect, and it’s not pretty

They’ve also been instructed to report if a student comes out as LGBTQ, according to a local teachers’ organization.

At a fiery, four-hour Leon County school board meeting last Tuesday, a new “LGBTQ Inclusive School Guide” was agreed. It controversially says schools will notify parents — by form — if a student who is “open about their gender identity” is in a physical education class or on an overnight trip.

Advocates believe this will out LGBTQ students to the wider community, even if another part of the guide states that a student’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression “should not be shared with others without their input and permission.”

Spurned on partly by the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ controversy, California Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday posted a special July 4th message to Florida residents, encouraging them to think about coming to California if they cherish an inclusive, welcoming and diverse state that allows them to exercise all their freedoms.

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