- Joe Biden spoke out against a Florida bill that bans discussion of sexual orientation in schools.
- The White House took a rare move in denouncing the legislation to make a statement, Jen Psaki said.
- “My Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve,” Biden tweeted.
President Joe Biden on Tuesday offered support to LGBTQ students while speaking out against a Florida bill that would ban the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the state’s public schools.
“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,” Biden tweeted.
—President Biden (@POTUS) February 8, 2022
“I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve,” he added.
The controversial legislation, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, passed the state Senate Education Committee along party lines on Tuesday. A near identical version was first proposed nearly a month ago in the state’s House of Representatives.
The bill would restrict school districts from “encouraging discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” though the text fails to define what would be considered “age-appropriate” or “developmentally appropriate” for the topics.
Advancement of the bill comes a day after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signaled his support for the legislation, telling reporters on Monday that it was “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to be talking about topics like sexual orientation and gender identity with students.
“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis said during a press conference. “They need to teach them science, history.”
The governor cited alleged examples of teachers telling students not to worry about “picking their gender” and suggested educators were hiding classroom material from parents.
Opponents of the bill worry it would cause gay, lesbian, and transgender children to be even further marginalized. They also fear the legislation could prevent educators from having classroom discussions about the topics and might erase LGBTQ history from the statewide curriculum.
Last month, Chasten Buttigieg, a former teacher and husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, said the bill would “kill kids,” citing data from The Trevor Project which found that 42% of LGBTQ youth considered suicide last year.
Proponents of the bill, however, argue that the bill is targeting school districts, not teachers, which means educators would still be allowed to have such conversations if they came up. Last month, Republican Rep. Joe Harding, who introduced the bill, said the legislation would not stop students from talking about their LGBTQ families, nor would teachers be barred from teaching lessons on queer history, according to WFLA-TV.
The White House officially denounced the bill on Tuesday — a rare move that press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters was taken to make a statement.
“Today, conservative politicians in Florida advanced legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids. Instead of making growing up harder for young people, @POTUS is focused on keeping schools open and supporting students’ mental health,” The White House tweeted.