Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill banning the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, a policy that has sparked intense national scrutiny of the from critics who say it marginalizes LGBTQ people.
The legislation has pushed Florida and DeSantis, an ascendant Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate, to the forefront of the nation’s culture wars, with LGBTQ advocates, students, Democrats, the entertainment industry and the White House denouncing what critics called the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
DeSantis and the Republicans have repeatedly said the measure is reasonable and that parents, not teachers, should discuss issues of sexual orientation and gender identity with their children.
“We will ensure that parents can send their children to school to receive education, not indoctrination,” DeSantis said before signing the bill. He and other speakers stood at a podium on which was posted a sign that read Protect Children/Support Parents.
Critics say the bill is worded so vaguely that speech could be muzzled in public schools.
The bill states: “In-class instruction by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity may not take place in kindergarten through grade 3 or in any manner that is not appropriate for the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards.” Parents could sue districts for violation.
DeSantis signed the bill after a press conference held at Classical Preparatory School in Spring Hill, about 75 miles north of Tampa. The school was founded by Anne Corcoran, wife of Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, according to The Gainesville Sun.