Central Florida officials respond to DeSantis’ signing of Parental Rights in Education bill

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill into law on Monday, causing officials and organizations from across the state to offer their opinions on the move.

The bill, referred to by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.


Read the reactions from local officials and organizations below:

Gov. Ron DeSantis

“Parents’ rights have been increasingly under assault around the nation, but in Florida we stand up for the rights of parents and the fundamental role they play in the education of their children. Parents have every right to be informed about services offered to their child at school, and should be protected from schools using classroom instruction to sexualize their kids as young as 5 years old.”

READ: DeSantis signs bill forbidding instruction on sexual orientation, gender identity in certain grades

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez

“Parental Rights in Education empowers Florida’s parents and safeguards our children. This bill refuses to allow school boards and teachers unions the ability to hide information about students from their parents. In addition, it prohibits classroom discussion in grades K-3 on gender orientation and sexual identity. Throughout this legislative session, this bill has been maliciously maligned by those who prefer slogans and sound bites over substance and common sense. Fortunately, Governor DeSantis and I believe that parents should have a say. We will not back down to woke corporations and their same tired tactics that are steeped in hypocrisy. As a mother of three, I am committed to protecting the rights of parents.”

Rep. Anna Eskamani

“I want to be clear that identifying as LGBTQ+ and caring about LGBTQ+ kids is not a “leftist agenda” nor is it inappropriate for educators to acknowledge the fact that LGBTQ+ people are real and exist. The intent of this bill is to erase queer students and eliminate any programming that helps them feel safe and supported. We heard from the Senate bill sponsor himself that he thinks children identify as LGBTQ+ because they want to be famous, and we heard comments from another Senator that “gay is not permanent.” This is what fueled the passage of this bill, and instead of solving problems like the rising cost of rent in Florida, our Governor has continued to pursue a red meat agenda, attacking a group of people he clearly doesn’t think should even exist.”

READ: Florida Senate passes controversial Parental Rights in Education bill

Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus President Stephen Gaskill

“It’s clear where Ron DeSantis’ priorities are. Of all the challenges Florida is facing and bills passed during the legislative session, he jumped at the opportunity to demonize LGBTQ+ Floridians. His shameful bigotry is cynically designed for partisan gain and authoritarian rule at the expense of LGBTQ+ students, educators, and families. It’s not a political game though when lives are on the line.”

Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus Legislative Director Nathan Bruemmer

“Dedicated LGBTQ+ teachers must hide who they are or risk losing their career. Students with LGBTQ+ parents and siblings won’t be able to talk about their families. We will lose more LGBTQ+ youth to suicide and hate crimes against LGBTQ+ Floridians will increase. These tragedies will be on DeSantis’ hands. Florida’s LGBTQ+ community is sending him a loud and clear message: we will not be erased, and we will fight his hate-filled attacks on us with everything we have.”

READ: Central Florida reacts to passage of controversial Parental Rights in Education bill

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith

“By signing #DontSayGay into law, DeSantis is attempting to censor and exclude an entire community of people from our public schools for his own political gain. This law doesn’t solve any problem that exists. Instead, HB 1557 has been weaponized by the Governor’s office to launch a bigoted smear campaign to attack and defame LGBTQ Floridians with baseless accusations of grooming and pedophilia.

HB 1557 does absolutely nothing to prohibit conversations about sex, sexual activity or sex ed with young children, despite its proponents’ claims. 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. Even worse, #DontSayGay sends a hateful message to our most vulnerable youth who simply need our support.

The battle against #DontSayGay is far from over. To those LGBTQ youth in Florida and around the world struggling to find support, just know that you are loved exactly the way you are and we’ll continue to fight for you every single day because your lives are worth fighting for.”

READ: Dollywood closes drop ride after deadly incident on similar attraction at Orlando’s ICON Park

The Walt Disney Company

“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. 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. We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country.”

READ: Disney cast members to stage walkout over controversial Parental Rights in Education bill

Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran

“Parents play the #1 role in a child’s life and I am thankful for the Governor, Legislature and so many parents who continue to stand up for parents’ rights to be the foremost authority involving their children. Greater parental involvement leads to a better quality of life for children and this important legislation helps ensure Florida’s great educators collaborate with parents to ensure students are learning and flourishing, and I am thankful for Governor DeSantis’ commitment to all of Florida’s 2.9 million public school students.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz

“It is a sad day in Florida. Make no mistake, by signing the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, Ron DeSantis is taking the side of hatred, bullying, and discrimination and sending a clear message to children in Florida that he doesn’t care about them or their families if he can use their pain to score political points with his base. Florida’s families deserve leaders who will stand up for them and give them the freedom to be proud of who they are.”

READ: DeSantis, Disney butt heads over Florida’s ‘Parental Rights in Education’ bill

onePULSE Foundation

“Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is hateful, discriminatory and bigoted and will further stigmatize, marginalize and isolate LGBTQ+ youth and their families. We denounce this unconscionable and shameful law and will continue to #SayGay and stand in solidarity with all LGBTQ+ Floridians to help ensure that every student – especially those most vulnerable and in need of support – feels safe, welcomed and included at school. The importance of safe spaces – like Pulse nightclub was for Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community – cannot be overstated. It is our hope that the National Pulse Memorial & Museum will serve as such a critical space and educational forum in the future.”

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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