Ron DeSantis Signals He’d Be Open to Making Florida an Anti-Gay Hellhole

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A funny thing about Republicans is that despite claiming to be the party of “personal freedom,” in the last year alone, they have tried to prevent Americans from: reading certain books, teaching about systemic racism, making decisions about their own bodies, and, in the case of some groups, voting in democratic elections. A lot of people would look at this evidence and conclude that Republicans are massive hypocrites—and they would be right! So while deeply depressing, it’s in no way surprising that Florida conservatives want to ban talk of gender identity and sexual orientation in the state’s primary school classrooms, and that Florida’s governor, who seems to have his eye on the White House in 2024, has signaled his support for the initiative.

On Monday, Ron DeSantis offered tacit endorsement for the Parental Rights in Education bill, a.k.a. the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would require the implementation of “procedures to reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children,” ban teachers from encouraging conversations about LGBTQ+ topics in the classroom that are “not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” and allow parents to take legal action against school districts if they think their “fundamental right” as parents has been violated. Asked about the bill, DeSantis insisted it is “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to talk with students about gender identity, claiming to have heard examples of children being told, “Don’t worry, don’t pick your gender yet,” and where teachers are “hiding” lessons from parents.

“Schools need to be teaching kids to read, to write,” DeSantis said, completely ignoring the emotional development that also occurs during kids’ formative years. “They need to teach them science, history. We need more civics and understanding of the U.S. Constitution, what makes our country unique, all those basic stuff.… The larger issue with all of this is parents must have a seat at the table when it comes to what’s going on in their schools.” While he did not outright say he would sign the bill into law, as NBC News notes, “it was the first time the Republican governor signaled his support for the measure since it was proposed by the state’s House of Representatives last month.” Which is incredibly worrisome.

Opponents of the bill—which include the White House—have warned it would be extremely harmful to the mental health of LGBTQ+ teachers and students. “Make no mistake—this is not an isolated action. Across the country, we’re seeing Republican leaders take actions to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be,” a spokesperson for the White House said in a statement. “This is politics at its worse, cynically using our students as pawns in political warfare.”

Seizing on the “parental rights” line trotted out by DeSantis and other Republicans, South Florida resident Jennifer Soloman, who has LGBTQ+ children, commented to NBC News: “Parental rights? Whose parental rights? Only parental rights if you’re raising a child according to DeSantis? DeSantis tries to paint this picture that every family is this 1950s mom and dad with two kids and a cat and dog. That is not what Florida looks like; that is not what the country looks like.” While Soloman told NBC that she is not personally worried about the impact of the bill on her children, because they live in a part of the state that is “relatively accepting of LGBTQ people,” she fears for those living in other communities. “There could be a family just like mine that is going to have to go back in the closet,” she said. “They’re going to have to tell their child, ‘I’m sorry, you can dress the way you want to at home, but you have no protections at school, and so you can’t be your authentic self all of the time.’ That’s very damaging to a child.”

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Want to hear the 10 scariest words in the English language?

Okay, they are: “The babysitter canceled, but Stephen Miller is watching our kids.” The next 10 scariest? “Peter Thiel to Leave Meta Board to Pursue Trump Agenda.” Per Bloomberg:

Peter Thiel, the tech investor and conservative provocateur who has advised Mark Zuckerberg for nearly two decades at Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc., will step down from the company’s board after Meta’s annual shareholder meeting in May. Thiel, 54, who became a director in 2005 after an early investment in Facebook, plans to increase his political support of former president Donald Trump’s agenda during the 2022 election and doesn’t want his political activities to be a distraction for Facebook, according to a person close to Thiel. 

Thiel helped elect Trump president in 2016 by donating money and speaking on his behalf at the Republican National Convention. When Trump became president, Thiel worked on his transition team while nominating colleagues to fill government positions…. Thiel has continued to support Trump while meeting with members of the Republican Party and members of the far-right in recent years.

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