Dave Puglisi - LGBTQ-advocacy groups and federal education officials Monday condemned Gov. Ron DeSantis for signing a bill that will bar instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in early school grades, with one organization pledging to file a lawsuit.
In part, the measure (HB 1557) will prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and require that such instruction in older grades is "age-appropriate" in accordance with state academic standards.
The LGBTQ-advocacy group Equality Florida held a news conference and said it plans to file a lawsuit against the measure, which critics dubbed the "don’t say gay" bill.
"Litigation is coming. And it will be swift and fierce, and we believe successful," said Joe Saunders, the organization’s political director, and a former state lawmaker.
DeSantis’ signing of the bill also drew an objection from the U.S. Department of Education, which has locked horns with the governor in the past over issues such as mask requirements in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement that the department will be "monitoring this law upon implementation to evaluate whether it violates federal civil rights law."
DeSantis and other proponents of the measure have disputed the "don’t say gay" moniker.
The bill’s sponsors titled it, "Parental Rights in Education." During a bill-signing event in Spring Hill, DeSantis said, "Parents have a fundamental role in the education, health care, and well-being of their children. We will not move from that."