Florida governor Ron DeSantis appoints anti-LGBTQ+ activist to board at queer-friendly high school

A photo of Florida governor Ron DeSantis wearing a dark suit, white shirt and red tie standing in front of the American flag

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has appointed anti-LGBTQ+ activist Christopher Rufo to the board of trustees of the queer-friendly New College of Florida.

The school, which has a reputation for being progressive, will see far-right Rufo implement a “top-down restructuring” that will involve designing “a new core curriculum from scratch”.

“We’re happy to work with them to make New College a great place to continue their education,” Rufo said of the students already attending the school, “or we’d be happy to work with them to help them find something that suits them better.”

He added: “We anticipate that this is going to be a process that involves conflict.”

Following Rufo’s appointment, New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg has accused DeSantis of plotting a “hostile takeover of a liberal college”. 

“We want to provide an alternative for conservative families in the state of Florida to say there is a public university that reflects your values,” Rufo told Goldberg.

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He added: “If we can take this high-risk, high-reward gambit and turn it into a victory, we’re going to see conservative state legislators starting to reconquer public institutions all over the United States.”

Rufo has consistently targeted the queer community and spent years attempting to create a movement against the teaching of critical race theory – an academic concept which simply states race is a social construct and racism is part of everyday life. 

In 2021, Rufo, who is not Florida-based, admitted that right-wing activists “appropriated” the term critical race theory and that he doesn’t “give a s**t” about its definition.

He has also been responsible for spreading misinformation, and previously claimed Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago was promoting “‘trans-friendly’ sex toys for children.” 

His claim was based on a resource document that was provided exclusively to teachers.  

But claims like this have led to hospitals such as Boston Children’s Hospital being targeted with bomb threats. 

Rufo has also participated in attempts punish Disney’s commitment to strike down Flordia’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. He tweeted: “We are going to war with Disney and the left-wing activists who are subverting parents and pushing gender ideology onto children.”

“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,” Disney said at the time.

But the response caused DeSantis to label Disney as “woke”, and he said he believed the company had “crossed the line”.

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