Ron DeSantis says warning of ‘hostile’ Florida for Black and LGBTQ+ visitors is political ‘stunt’

Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis has hit out at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) over its warning that Florida is “openly hostile towards African Americans, people of colour and LGBTQ+ individuals”. 

Republican DeSantis, who has been governor or Florida since 2019, called the NAACP’s advisory a “stunt” during an interview with CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Norah O’Donnell.

In May, the civil rights group issued the advisory after DeSantis ​​enacted a host of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, including the infamous Don’t Say Gay law, as well as using his power to pull funding for diversity initiatives and block a high school from teaching an African-American studies course.

During the interview, O’Donnell asked if everyone would be welcome in a DeSantis America. 

“One hundred per cent,” he answered, “and [the NAACP’s warning] is politics, that is a stunt. They obviously have a very left-wing agenda, which I don’t begrudge them.” 

He went on to claim unemployment rates for African Americans in Florida is “way lower” than in some Democrat-run states, as well stating that the Sunshine State has more Black-owned businesses and Black students on scholarships.  

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“We have shown people can succeed in Florida, regardless of their race, ethnicity, any of that. We will judge people as individuals, we want people to rise up based on their merit,” he said. 

Ron DeSantis passed the Don’t Say Gay bill into law. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

The Economic Policy Institute, which sources employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics and Current Population Survey, shows that in the second quarter of 2023 Florida’s Black unemployment rate was 3.6 per cent. 

The data reveals that Nevada (11.3 per cent), Washington D.C. (10.8 per cent) and Illinois (9.5 per cent) have the highest Black unemployment rates in the country, while Alabama, at 2.6 per cent, is the only state with a Black unemployment rate below three per cent. 

Businesses majority-owned by Black or African American people accounted for three per cent of all business in America in 2020, with the highest share of Black-owned businesses located in Washington D.C., Georgia and Maryland, the figures show. 

O’Donnell went on to say that Black and LGBTQ+ people living in Florida fear DeSantis, who continues to trail Donald Trump in the polls, would discriminate against them. 

“Part of the reason they think that is because of narratives put out by [the] media,” the governor claimed. 

“For example, when we had the fight with Disney over elementary education, about should you have things about sex and gender identity… we said absolutely not. 

“Parents in Florida, and throughout the country I think, agreed with that, that was termed by the media Don’t Say Gay.

“The bill did not mention the word gay, I never said that gay people wanted kindergarteners to be told they can change their gender. The media created that and the Left created that.” 

DeSantis went on to say it was unacceptable for teachers to discuss gender with pupils, insisting that they should not be involved in family matters. 

O’Donnell pointed out that many people know they are gay from a very young age, and asked DeSantis if gay youth should feel accepted in schools.

“Everyone should feel accepted,” he answered.