A law that more tightly regulates discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms went into effect Friday, producing another dust-up between Ron DeSantis and the feds.
The White House and the U.S. Education Department issued a statement calling the law discriminatory and bullying against LGBTQ youth and asked for violations of federal law to be reported to the Civil Rights Office of the U.S. DOE.
DeSantis’ campaign then issued its own statement saying President Joe Biden’s administration “continues to lie” about the law.
The Parental Rights in Education Law (HB 1557) — which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” measure — prohibits discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation that are not “age appropriate.”
The law has already spawned a lawsuit from LGBTQ advocacy groups who argue the law was discriminatory and the product of “animus” towards the state’s LGBTQ community. It also prompted Republicans to return their donations from Disney after the media giant said it would work to reverse the law.
And now the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the U.S. Secretary of Education have issued a BOLO for civil right violations in Florida schools resulting from the new law.
The legislation already is changing the atmosphere in Florida’s schools, said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Pierre cited reports that teachers were being told not to dress in rainbow colors, to scrape off “safe space” classroom stickers and take down any family photos with husband and wives.
“Today, some of Florida’s most vulnerable students and families are more fearful and less free,” Jean-Pierre’s statement reads. “As the state’s shameful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect, state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.”
She was citing reports from Orange County Schools that appeared in publications Thursday. Other media reports showed the law resulted in new policies in Leon and Palm Beach counties that affect the whole system.
But DeSantis’ campaign says the law the Governor signed March 28 is protecting children, emphasizing the law explicitly mentions children in kindergarten through third grade. The law also prohibits discussions that are not “age-appropriate.”
“The White House continues to lie about Florida’s work to protect children as young as five years old from sexualized lesson plans,” DeSantis campaign spokeswoman Lindsey Curnutte told Fox News Digital in an exclusive statement Friday.
“Gov. DeSantis’s pro-parent education agenda stands in stark contrast to the policies coming out of Washington as Joe Biden tries to steal lunch money from our kids to push woke gender ideology. As a father of three young children, Gov. DeSantis is committed to putting students first and protecting parents’ rights, and no false White House statement will change that.”
A question about the reports about how the law was being put into practice in the state’s schools went unaddressed Friday.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said he was disheartened that the law went into effect. It’s “part of a dangerous trend” of legislation across the country, he argued.
“It put Florida students in danger of bullying and worse mental health outcomes,” Cardona wrote. “The Biden-(Kamala) Harris administration will continue to fight for dignity, opportunity, and the protection of civil rights for every student and family.”
Cardona’s statement contains a link for families to address any problems they see.
“The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights stands ready, and as always, any student who believes they are experiencing discrimination, including harassment, at school or any parent or caregiver who is concerned that their child is experiencing discrimination, is encouraged to file a complaint with our office,” he wrote.