In Jacksonville Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected the framing of “parental rights in education” legislation as a “Don’t Say Gay” bill and offered new warnings about transgender issues in the school setting.
“It’s inappropriate to be injecting those matters like transgenderism into the classroom,” DeSantis said.
The Governor was combative when asked about HB 1557, a bill passed by the House on party lines and ready for the Senate special order calendar Monday.
Though the bill only got one Senate committee hearing, it is poised to pass via the special order calendar and an eventual final reading next week. And if the Senate moves the bill, it will be with DeSantis’ blessing.
DeSantis rejected the “Don’t Say Gay” descriptor, saying to a reporter, “You call it that. I haven’t seen that in any of these bills. Where is this coming from?”
“Does the truth matter or not? Is that in any of these bills? Yes or no,” the Governor hectored, harrumphing yet again about the media.
Noting that he “didn’t have a dog in the fight” and “this wasn’t my legislation,” DeSantis nonetheless offered a spirited defense of the bill.
“You actually look at the bill, and it says no sexual instruction in grades pre-K through 3. How many parents want their kindergarteners to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction?”
“It’s basically saying for our younger students … do you really want them being taught about sex? And this is any sexual stuff. But I think clearly right now, we see a focus on transgenderism, telling kids they may be able to pick genders and all of that,” DeSantis added.
It was perhaps fitting DeSantis defended the bill in Jacksonville, where he signed a bill in 2021 banning transgender athletes from interscholastic girls’ and women’s sports competitions.
“Girls are gonna play girls’ sports,” he said. “Boys are going to play boys’ sports.”
DeSantis told a rapt crowd and a bank of television cameras that the decision was “based off biology, not off ideology,” with gender ultimately reflected on the “birth certificate at the time of birth.”
DeSantis’ comments come in the wake of student protests that failed to stop the House from passing the parental rights legislation, and they likely won’t resolve anyone’s concerns about the latest in a series of bills targeting Florida’s LGBT population.