Ron DeSantis Disney appointee suggests tap water could turn people gay. Yes, really.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis wears a suit and tie as he gestures with one finger raised upwards on both hands during a speech

One of Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ appointees to oversee Disney’s special district pushed the baseless conspiracy theory that tap water turns people gay among other anti-LGBTQ+ remarks.

Ron Peri, a former pastor from Orlando and CEO of a Christian ministry, was one of five people handpicked by DeSantis to a newly-created board that will oversee Walt Disney World’s special district. 

The move is part of DeSantis’ feud with Disney after the entertainment giant lambasted his ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, and DeSantis approved legislation to strip Disney of the self-governing municipal power it held in Florida for decades. 

CNN investigation into Peri’s background uncovered the DeSantis Disney appointee has a history of making bigoted remarks about the LGBTQ+ community. 

Peri baselessly suggested in a 2022 Zoom discussion, posted on YouTube and uncovered by CNN, that “estrogen in the water from birth control pills” makes people gay.

“So why are there homosexuals today?” Peri said in the discussion. “There are any number of reasons, you know, that are given.”

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He continued: “Some would say the increase in estrogen in our societies. You know, there’s estrogen in the water from birth control pills. They can’t get it out.”

Peri also suggested the estrogen consumed via drinking water was contributing to a decline in testosterone levels among men in the US. 

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Low levels of estrogen and estrogen-related compounds have been found in some tap water, and there’s no scientific research linking the hormone’s presence to changes in a person’s sexual orientation.

Birth control pills accounted for less than one per cent of the total amount of estrogen found in US drinking water, according to a 2010 study

The groundless and harmful idea that certain chemicals in tap water can change someone’s sexuality has been popular among conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. 

Jones claimed the increase in queer people is a “chemical warfare operation” by the government. He also infamously ranted about a chemical “gay bomb” and alleged the government was “putting chemicals in the water that turn friggin’ frogs gay”, which went viral online. 

In the same discussion, Peri called being gay “shameful”, “evil” and “deviant”, according to CNN. He was also heard saying there are “unhealthy effects of a homosexual lifestyle”, including “diseases”. 

The DeSantis Disney appointee also said LGBTQ+ people “don’t have a stake in the future” because some couples don’t have children – another vile dog whistle used to attack the queer community

Florida governor Ron DeSantis wears a suit and tie as he speaks with his mouth wide open. The red and white stripes of the US flag can be seen in the background
Ron DeSantis also appointed a co-founder of Moms of Liberty, a right-wing group that viciously fights to ban LGBTQ+ books in schools, to the Disney district oversight board. (Getty)

In addition to Peri, DeSantis also appointed Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of the right-wing organisation Moms for Liberty, to the board overseeing Disney’s district in Florida. Ziegler is also the wife of the new chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.

Moms for Liberty’s Florida chapters worked with DeSantis to push his reviled ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation, which bans the mention of LGBTQ+ topics in certain grades across the state’s public schools. 

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The nationwide group is infamous for fighting to remove books with LGBTQ+ topics from schools and libraries, and some members suggested queer kids should be placed in separate classrooms “like children with autism or Down’s syndrome”.

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