Florida governor Ron DeSantis claims trans issues are ‘injected’ into classrooms

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, wears a dark suit with a blue tie while addressing attendees at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference

Governor Ron DeSantis has claimed trans issues are being “injected” into classrooms while seemingly showing support for Florida’s reviled “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

House Bill 1557 (HB 1557), dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, would ban schools from “encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels” or at any level if the discussion is “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.

The proposed legislation has been met with harsh outcry from lawmakers and advocates for attempting to “erase discussion of LGBTQ people in schools in Florida”.

However, the Republican governor pushed back at the media portrayal surrounding the proposed legislation at a press conference in Jacksonville on Friday (4 March), CBS Miami reported. 

He said the bill is about “no sexual instruction” being given to young students before claiming that trans issues are being “injected” into classrooms. 

“When you actually look at the bill and it says ‘no sexual instruction to kids pre-K through three’, how many parents want their kids to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction?” said DeSantis. 

He continued: “It’s basically saying for our younger students, do you really want them being taught about sex? 

“And this is any sexual stuff. But I think clearly right now, we see a focus on transgenderism, telling kids they may be able to pick genders and all of that.” 

This is not the first time that Ron DeSantis has signalled his support for the bill. 

In February, DeSantis said it was “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to have discussions with students about their gender identity or sexual orientation. 

He alleged there had been “instances” where students had been “told by different folks in school” to not “pick your gender yet”. DeSantis later said these interactions aren’t “happening here in large numbers” in Florida. 

DeSantis’s latest statement comes after hundreds of students across Florida staged a mass walkout in protest over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill

Jack Petocz, a Flagler Palm Coast High School (FPCHS) student, organised statewide protests on social media and led his school’s protest in Palm Coast on Thursday (3 March).

On the day, around 500 FPCHS students gathered at the school’s stadium and chanted: “Say gay! Say gay! Say gay!”. 

In a statement posted to Twitter, Petocz said he had been “indefinitely suspended” after the rally. 

He said that he simply encouraged his “fellow students snow to give in to the school’s unconstitutional seizure of our Pride flags” but to keep “demonstrating our Pride in a peaceful manner”. 

Pecotz added: “I am proud of who I am and I am proud of all of this protesting these regressive bills. We must let our politicians know that no matter how hard they try, they cannot suppress our identities or silence our voices.

President Joe Biden openly denounced the controversial bill in a statement on social media where he promised to “fight” to ensure the continued “safety” of the LGBT+ community. 

“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” Biden wrote.

“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”

Biden’s comments echoed a previous statement by the White House on Twitter. The White House tweeted that “conservative politicians” in Florida had pushed forward a bill “designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids”.

HB 1557 is on its way to a Senate vote after passing through the state’s House in late February. According to CBS Miami, the bill will appear before the Senate for a vote on Monday (7 March).

If it passes through the Senate, it would land on the desk of Ron DeSantis to be signed into law or rejected. It would not be the first anti-LGBT+ bill that DeSantis approved. 

In June, DeSantis signed a bill that banned trans girls from competing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity.

He also previously said he would “for sure” sign proposed legislation banning gender-affirming treatments for young trans people if it ever landed on his desk.