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Psaki denounces Florida GOP bill that would limit classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity

White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki denounced state legislation in Florida that aims to limit classroom discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • “These legislators are trying to make it harder for them to be who they are,” Psaki said.
  • Republicans say it’s inappropriate for teachers to speak with students about the topic.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday denounced a Republican-backed bill in the Florida state legislature that aims to limit discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity in primary schools.

“Every parent, as one myself too, hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection and freedom,” Psaki told reporters. “Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need the support most, kids from the LGBTQI+ community, who are already vulnerable to bullying … and violence just for being themselves and just for being who they are.”

“Make no mistake: this is not an isolated action in Florida,” Psaki continued. “Across the country, we’re seeing Republican leaders taking action to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be.”

“This is who these kids are, and these legislators are trying to make it harder for them to be who they are,” she added. “So we felt it was important to speak out against this action.”  

The Florida bills, dubbed “Parental Rights in Education,” are making their way through the state legislature. If passed, the legislation would prohibit “a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a specified manner,” according to its text.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signaled his support for the legislation, saying it’s “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to speak with students about gender identity.

“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis said. “They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic stuff.”

“The larger issue with all of this is parents must have a seat at the table when it comes to what’s going on in their schools,” he added.

Besides Florida, a wave of Republican-led states have introduced bills to expand transparency on school curriculum and ban teaching on specific topics, such as critical race theory. 

Critics have decried the Florida legislation as “Don’t Say Gay” bills. They fear that the policy would limit classroom learning on LGBTQ history, and marginalize students who identify as LGBTQ. 

Advocates for the legislation say that it’s “not-age appropriate” for elementary-aged school children to engage in discussions around sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents say the issue is non-existent, as there is no curriculum on the topic being taught in schools.

—NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 8, 2022


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