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White House denounces Florida GOP over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

February 8, 2022 GMT
FILE - Florida Sen. Dennis Baxley makes a point during a Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting in a legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Republican-backed legislation, co-sponsored by Baxley, in Florida that could severely limit discussion of gay and lesbian issues in public schools is being widely condemned as dangerous and discriminatory, with one gay Democratic lawmaker saying it’s an attempt to silence LGBTQ students, families and history. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
FILE - Florida Sen. Dennis Baxley makes a point during a Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting in a legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Republican-backed legislation, co-sponsored by Baxley, in Florida that could severely limit discussion of gay and lesbian issues in public schools is being widely condemned as dangerous and discriminatory, with one gay Democratic lawmaker saying it’s an attempt to silence LGBTQ students, families and history. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
FILE - Florida Sen. Dennis Baxley makes a point during a Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting in a legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Republican-backed legislation, co-sponsored by Baxley, in Florida that could severely limit discussion of gay and lesbian issues in public schools is being widely condemned as dangerous and discriminatory, with one gay Democratic lawmaker saying it’s an attempt to silence LGBTQ students, families and history. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
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FILE - Florida Sen. Dennis Baxley makes a point during a Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting in a legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Republican-backed legislation, co-sponsored by Baxley, in Florida that could severely limit discussion of gay and lesbian issues in public schools is being widely condemned as dangerous and discriminatory, with one gay Democratic lawmaker saying it’s an attempt to silence LGBTQ students, families and history. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)
1 of 4
FILE - Florida Sen. Dennis Baxley makes a point during a Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting in a legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Republican-backed legislation, co-sponsored by Baxley, in Florida that could severely limit discussion of gay and lesbian issues in public schools is being widely condemned as dangerous and discriminatory, with one gay Democratic lawmaker saying it’s an attempt to silence LGBTQ students, families and history. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The White House on Tuesday slammed Florida Republicans over a proposal to ban discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in the state’s schools.

A White House spokesperson weighed in on the legislation, dubbed by activists as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, shortly after a GOP-controlled committee approved the measure.

“Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection, and freedom. Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most – LGBTQI+ students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and violence just for being themselves,” the White House statement read.

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The bill states that “a school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” Parents could sue a school district for violations.

The measure, which has also been introduced in the state House of Representatives, has drawn widespread condemnation from activist groups who argue it would marginalize LGBTQ children and families and stifle discussions about LGBTQ history. Both bills are still in the committee phase.

Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley, who sponsored the proposal, told lawmakers in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday that the bill wouldn’t forbid spontaneous discussions but would bar districts from incorporating LGBTQ topics into curriculum.

“Some discussions are for with your parents. And I think when you start opening sexual-type discussions with children, you’re entering a very dangerous zone,” Baxley said.

Asked about the proposal on Tuesday, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “I haven’t looked at any particulars of anything but I do think you’ve seen instances in which kids are encouraged to be doing stuff with like a gender ideology and I think the parents really do need to be involved in that.”