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White House criticizes Florida’s parental rights bill as it goes into effect: ‘This is discrimination’


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The White House criticized Florida’s parental rights bill when it went into effect Friday, calling the measure “discrimination” and part of a “disturbing and dangerous” trend across the nation of Republican politicians “cynically attacking LGBTQI+ people” to “score political points”.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in March that would bar teachers from giving classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” from kindergarten through third grade.

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre criticized the measure when it took effect Friday, saying some of Florida’s “most vulnerable students and families are more fearful and less free.”

“As the state’s shameful ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect, state officials who claim to uphold freedom are limiting the freedom of their fellow citizens simply to be themselves,” he said. “There have already been reports of ‘Safe Space’ stickers being removed from classrooms. Teachers are being told not to wear rainbow clothing. LGBTQI+ teachers are being told to remove family photos of their husbands and wives, cherished family photos like the ones on my own desk.

Jean-Pierre said this “is not a ‘parental rights’ issue.”

U.S. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre conducts the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., on June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

“This is discrimination, plain and simple,” he said. “It’s part of a disturbing and dangerous national trend of right-wing politicians cynically targeting students, educators, and LGBTQI+ individuals to score political points.”

Jean-Pierre also said the move “encourages bullying and threatens the mental health, physical safety and well-being of students.”

“Censorship of dedicated teachers and educators who want to do the right thing and support their students,” he said. “And it must stop.”

Jean-Pierre said that President Joe Biden “has been very clear that all students deserve to feel safe and welcome in the classroom.”

Florida, USA Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, USA, on February 24, 2022.

Florida, USA Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, USA, on February 24, 2022.
(Reuters)

He announced that the Department of Education plans to monitor the law, saying “any student or parent who believes they are experiencing discrimination is encouraged to file a complaint with the Department’s Office for Civil Rights.”

“Our Administration will continue to fight for the dignity and opportunity of every student and family, in Florida and across the country,” he said.

The initial bill was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by Democrats who falsely claim that it bans any discussion related to being gay in the state’s schools.

TAMPA, FL - MARCH 26: Revelers cheer on 7th Avenue during the Tampa Pride Parade in the Ybor City neighborhood on March 26, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.  (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

TAMPA, FL – MARCH 26: Revelers cheer on 7th Avenue during the Tampa Pride Parade in the Ybor City neighborhood on March 26, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
(Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

The law prohibits classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” with children in third grade or younger, “or in a manner that is not age or developmentally appropriate according to standards state”.

The law does not prohibit the word “gay” in school settings, and does not prohibit casual discussions of issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom, and does not require schools to notify parents if their child declared gay or transgender.

It also does not require schools to notify parents of information about a student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”

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The law requires school districts to adopt procedures that “reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions about the upbringing and control of their children in a specific manner” and prohibit classroom instruction, not casual discussion, about ” sexual orientation” and “gender”. identity” with children in third grade or younger, “or in a way that is not age- or developmentally appropriate according to state standards.”

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the "say gay anyway" demonstration in Miami Beach, Florida, on March 13, 2022.

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the “Say Gay Anyway” rally in Miami Beach, Florida, on March 13, 2022.
(CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

The law also requires school districts to notify a student’s parents if there is a change “in the student’s services or control related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being and the school’s ability to provide safe and supportive learning. environment for the student,” and prohibits schools from “encouraging a student to withhold” such information from parents.

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The law also requires school districts to notify parents of each health care service offered at their student’s school, and the option to deny consent or decline any specific service, requires that parents be able to access educational records. or health records of your child maintained by the school, and require the school to obtain parental permission before administering a wellness questionnaire or health screening to students in kindergarten through third grade.

The law also requires schools to respond to parental concerns within seven days of notification of such concerns, and the school must resolve those concerns within 30 days. If the problem is not resolved, the parents can sue the school district or ask the state Commissioner of Education to appoint a special magistrate to mediate a solution, which the school district must pay for.



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