Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed "Don't Say Gay" bill into law.
On Wednesday, DeSantis approved the legislation banning instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for public school students in kindergarten through third grade. It will also let parents sue school districts they think violate the law starting July 1.
“We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” DeSantis said. According to AP, supporters of the Republican-backed bill claim that parents should be the ones talking about these topics with their children.
The controversial measure has been widely condemned by advocacy groups and Democrats since its inception and passage by the Florida senate, with President Joe Biden previously calling the bill "hateful" and voicing his support for the LGBTQ+ community and children affected by the legislation.
It has also faced backlash from the entertainment industry, including high-profile celebrities and Disney, which released a statement saying the bill "should never have passed and should never have been signed into law." The company — a huge political entity in Florida — previously came under fire for its silence, though it has since suspended all political donations in the state.
Prior to the signing, critics like Florida Representative Carlos G. Smith pointed out the bill's "intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBTQ people from any grade level."
The Florida Education Association also called the law a "political stunt," with President Andrew Spar saying the law is "based on a falsehood" that elementary schools are teaching children certain topics at an early age. Others noted that DeSantis is currently seeking re-election and is "invoking hateful anti-LGBTQ stereotypes all to pander to his right-wing base as he prepares to run for President in 2024."
"DeSantis has damaged our state's reputation as a welcoming and inclusive place for all families, he has made us a laughing stock and target of national derision. Worse, he has made schools less safe for children," as Executive Director of Equality Florida Nadine Smith said. "Equality Florida will defend the rights of all students to have a healthy environment to learn and thrive and for all parents to know their families are included and respected."
Smith added, "This law will not stand and we will work to see it removed either by the courts as unconstitutional or repealed by the legislature.”
Photo via Getty / Joe Raedle