White House calls out Ron DeSantis over Don’t Say Gay extension plan: ‘Completely, utterly wrong’

Karine Jean-Pierre in the White House press room.

The White House has condemned Ron DeSantis’ proposed extension of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law.

DeSantis, widely expected to make a run for president in 2024, wants to widen the age range of the Florida law restricting discussion of LGBTQ+ identities in classrooms.

At a briefing on Wednesday (22 March), press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the notion was “wrong”.

“It’s completely, utterly wrong”, the Hill reported.

Jean-Pierre, who is the first Black and out LGBTQ+ person to take the White House press secretary role, said: “Make no mistake, this is part of a disturbing and dangerous trend we’re seeing across the country, of legislation that [is] anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans, in a way we have not seen in some time.

“We’re talking about students, we’re talking about educators, we’re talking about individuals.” 

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Jean-Pierre added that the White House “will continue to fight for the dignity of Americans”. 

Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill – better known as Don’t Say Gay – was signed into law by Republican governor DeSantis last March, and restricts the discussion of LGBTQ+ identities in classrooms until third grade. The suggested expansion would broaden this law to cover children in grades four to 12. 

The law has been described as one of the most hateful in the US.

Ron DeSantis speaks during an event.
Ron DeSantis has routinely been labelled as anti-LGBTQ+ because of his series of bills undermining queer rights. (Getty)

DeSantis’ suggestion to expand the scope of the legislation comes just a week after the press sectary called out out the “dangerous” attacks on the US LGBTQ+ community, as politicians target drag performances and trans and queer lives across the nation.

“I just want to take a step back a moment and really call out the shameful, hateful and dangerous attacks that we have been seeing on the LGBTQI community this week and last week,” Jean-Pierre said.

Research by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that many LGBTQ+ parents in Florida have considered moving out of the Sunshine state because of the legislation.

The study revealed that that 56 per cent of 113 parents said they thought about leaving.

Florida has also introduced legislation that bans gender-affirming care for young trans people. More legislation targeting the community is being considered, including a bill which would aim to limit teaching on gender, HIV, sexuality and periods. 

The proposed law, House Bill 1069, sponsored by Republican Stan McClain, has been branded absurd by sexual healthcare organisations. 

Since the introduction of “Don’t Say Gay”, lawmakers elsewhere in the US have proposed copycat legislation. In Indiana, in December, state officials discussed enacting a bill to restrict discussion of LGBTQ+ subjects in schools.