White House’s Jen Psaki shuts down reporter dredging up Biden’s historic anti-LGBT+ schools vote

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters about Florida's Don't Say Gay bill

White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to get into Biden voting against the “promotion of homosexuality” in 1994, instead focusing on Florida’s “horrific” so-called Don’t Say Gay bill.

During her daily press briefing on Wednesday (9 March), Psaki reiterated that president Joe Biden has “passionately” spoken out against the bill, which would ban “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in the state’s primary schools.

The controversial bill passed through the Florida Senate on Tuesday (8 March), and it’s now on the desk of Republican governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.

Psaki said the “discriminatory” bill would negatively impact families and put kids in a “position of not getting the support they need at a time where that’s exactly what they need”.

“It’s a form of bullying. It is horrific,” Psaki said. “I mean, the president has spoken to that.”

Psaki’s comments about the “Don’t Say Gay” bill were in response to questions from a New York Post reporter on Biden’s voting history as a senator in the 90s.

The reporter noted that Biden voted for a 1994 amendment that would prohibit the use of federal funding for the “promotion of homosexuality as a positive lifestyle alternative”.

Psaki pointed to Biden’s track record of advocating for the LGBT+ community in the 25 years since, adding: “In terms of his views and comments from 25 years ago, I think the most important question now is: Why are Florida leaders deciding they need to discriminate against kids who are members of the LGBTQI community?

“What prompts them to do that? Is it meanness?

“Is it wanting to make kids have more difficult times in school, in their communities? I would pose that question to them, and we can talk about it more tomorrow if you get an answer.”

The report pressed her again on the historic vote, but Psaki once again focused on Biden’s support for the LGBT+ community.

“I think what’s important to note here is how outspoken the president has been against discrimination against kids, against members of the LGBTQI+ community. And what we’re looking at here is a bill that would propagate misinformed, hateful policies and impact children,” she said.

US secretary of education Miguel Cardona has criticised Florida lawmakers for pushing “hateful” legislation including the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which he said will “hurt some of the students most in need”. He said legislators should be focusing on young people “recover from the pandemic” instead of anti-LGBT+ legislation.

He also reminded Florida that federal law will protect LGBT+ students’ rights, and he said schools could risk losing federal funding if they don’t follow civil rights law.

“The Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Cardona said.

“We stand with our LGBTQ+ students in Florida and across the country, and urge Florida leaders to make sure all their students are protected and supported.”


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