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DeSantis signs controversial ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill after Oscars criticism

Mar 28, 2022


Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, known by critics as the “don’t say gay” bill, into state law. It was perhaps the most controversial of seven bills Gov. DeSantis received from the state legislature Monday, as it bans the teaching of sexual orientation or gender identity for public school children in kindergarten through third grade. It also prohibits such teaching that “is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for students in other grades.

“It’s about protecting parents’ ability to be involved, and it’s making sure that the classroom instruction, particularly these very young kids, are focused on math, science and reading,” DeSantis said at Monday’s bill signing. “People that go in to teach kindergarten do not want to be teaching this as part of the curriculum. They want to focus on things that are core academic subjects and that obviously are age appropriate.”

Under the law, parents can sue school districts they believe to be in violation. It goes into effect July 1.

The “don’t say gay” law, as it has been described by critics, has been a source of nationwide controversy since it was introduced earlier this year. President Joe Biden has called it “hateful,” and it was a frequent source of criticism at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

“If the people who held up degenerates like Harvey Weinstein as heroes are opposing us on parents’ rights, I wear that like a badge of honor,” DeSantis said in response to the Oscars criticism. “I don’t care what corporate media outlets say. I don’t care what Hollywood says. I don’t care what big corporations say. Here I stand. I’m not backing down.”

Walt Disney Co., whose flagship theme park Walt Disney World is in Florida, also criticized the law Monday. Last week, Disney workers staged a walkout to protest CEO Bob Chapek’s slow response in publicly criticizing the law.

“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” Disney said in a statement after the signing. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”