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Florida Gov. DeSantis has signed 'Don't Say Gay' bill

KELSEY SNELL, HOST:

Florida's governor signed a controversial bill today. It bans all instruction on sexual identity or gender in schools from kindergarten through third grade. It's called the Parental Rights in Education Bill. Critics call it the, quote, "Don't Say Gay" bill. And it's drawn national attention to Florida, including last night at the Academy Awards from co-host Wanda Sykes.

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WANDA SYKES: For you people in Florida, we're going to have a gay night.

REGINA HALL, AMY SCHUMER AND WANDA SYKES: Gay, gay, gay, gay.

SNELL: NPR's Greg Allen has more.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill today before an audience of students and supporters at a charter school near Tampa. It takes aim at how schools deal with sexual orientation and gender identity. He says the bill - now law - is about ensuring parents are involved in the education, health care and well-being of their children.

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RON DESANTIS: 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.

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ALLEN: DeSantis and other supporters of the new law say the label don't say gay is deliberately misleading. Although the law bans instruction dealing with sexual orientation, they say students and even teachers can use the word gay if it's an informal classroom discussion. DeSantis charges that opponents are hiding what he calls their true intentions.

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DESANTIS: They support sexualizing kids in kindergarten. They support injecting woke gender ideology into second grade classrooms.

ALLEN: Democrats and civil rights groups say the law is an attack on the LGBTQ community. Here's Joe Saunders with the advocacy group Equality Florida.

JOE SAUNDERS: It stigmatizes the LGBTQ community, chills efforts to create inclusive school environments and isolates LGBTQ young people who are already at staggeringly higher risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation than their peers.

ALLEN: Saunders believes by signing the law, DeSantis hopes to build his support among Republican voters in a possible bid for the 2024 presidential nomination. The law goes into effect July 1 but is likely to face legal challenges. Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHROMATICS SONG, "NITE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.