Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday pushed back on the media's coverage of a high-profile parental rights bill, saying reporters have promoted "false narratives" by calling it the "don't say gay" bill.
The Florida state Senate passed the bill by a vote of 22-17 Tuesday, some two weeks after the House approved the bill, 69-47. DeSantis says he will sign it.
Although the bill is seven pages long, only one section directly involves the issue of sexual orientation or gender identity, and it only impacts kindergarten through third grade.
"Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards," the bill that passed the House and Senate says.
Some of the confusion about the bill apparently is due to different versions. The initial version prohibited "classroom discussion" about sexual orientation and gender identity in "primary grades" – a term that can encompass grades beyond third.
The final version, though, is much more specific, prohibiting "instruction" only in the first four grades.
A reporter on Wednesday posed a question to DeSantis and noted that critics call it the "don't say gay" bill. DeSantis pushed back.
"Does it say that in the bill?" an irritated DeSantis asked the reporter. "... It doesn't matter what critics say."
The bill, he added, impacts only "five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds."
"And the idea that you wouldn't be honest about that and tell people what it actually says – it's why people don't trust people like you, because you peddle false narratives," he said. "And so we disabuse you of those narratives. And we're gonna make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Cliff Hawkins/Staff
Video courtesy: ©WFLA News Channel 8
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.