Equality Florida Leader Says Parental Rights Bill Will ‘Criminalize Your Existence’

Nadine Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Florida, told a group of Disney executives that Florida’s governor and legislative leaders are seeking to erase and criminalize the existence of gay people through the Parental Rights in Education bill.

The video obtained by a reporter documented comments made during a meeting among Disney officials and activists that was called to address the legislation recently signed by Governor DeSantis.

Referring to the bill, Smith said the actions by the governor and legislative leaders harkened back to the 1950’s and 1960’s. She told the Disney executives that “when they can criminalize your existence and demonize who you are, the next step is to criminalize you and take your kids.”

The comments by the participants in meeting voiced no concerns related to the provisions of bill addressing parental rights and the limitations of gender identity instruction to elementary school students. Instead, the discussion focused on how Disney would promote LGBTQ causes within their programing.

Smith has previously chose to characterize DeSantis as a “coward.”

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Federal Government to Monitor Florida Schools

United States Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Miguel Cardona said their Office of Civil Rights will be monitoring the implementation of the recently signed Parental Rights in Education bill. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed the bill into law on Monday.

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DeSantis Not Concerned About Possible Boycotts Due to Signing ‘Anti-Grooming’ Parental Rights Bill

Not long after signing the Parental Rights in Education bill into law on Monday, Governor DeSantis’ office fielded questions about concerns related to possible boycotts of Florida businesses.

Critics of the bill have used the “Don’t Say Gay” slogan to generate opposition to the legislation. This opposition has included protests and employment boycotts aimed at the Disney Corporation.

Christian Pushaw, Governor DeSantis spokesperson, tweeted that a reporter had inquired about possible backlash in Florida from the new law.

The reporter said  “in other states we have seen boycotts and business impacts from controversial bills, is this a concern in Florida…that tourism could be impacted, as it still rebounds from the pandemic.”

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Poll: Florida Democrats Support Limits on Teaching Sexual Orientation in Schools

A new poll of Democrat voters in Florida shows that a majority of Democrats support limits on teaching sexual orientation in schools as required by the Parental Rights in Education bill.

The poll was conducted from March 17-20 for Floridians for Economic Advancement, a political committee that has supported state legislative candidates from both parties.

The poll comes amid national protests against the Parental Rights in Education bill that critics have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The bill “prohibits a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

The main focus of the poll was the Democrat gubernatorial primary. Those results indicated that shows 43% of likely Democratic Primary voters favor Charlie Crist, with 33% picking Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and 15% liking state Sen. Annette Taddeo. Only about 8% of respondents started out unsure.

However, the poll also asked about a specific provision of the Parental Rights in Education bill.

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USA Today Columnist Mocks Florida Lawmaker’s Home Being Damaged by Tornado

A USA Today opinion columnist called a Florida lawmaker a “rotten bigot” and said God destroyed part of the lawmaker’s home. Michael J. Stern, the columnist, recently tweeted on Wednesday that he did not believe in God, but the news of Florida State Rep. Joe Harding’s (R-Williston) home being seriously damaged was causing him to reconsider.

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DeSantis Responds to Disney CEO; Cites China Connections, Woke Corporations

Ron DeSantis

One day after the Disney CEO came against the Parental Rights in Education bill, Gov. Ron DeSantis responded with references to China and Woke corporations.

On Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek addressed the parental rights legislation at a shareholders meeting by saying,  “I know that many are upset that we did not speak out against the bill. We were opposed to the bill from the outset, but we chose not to take a public position on it because we felt we could be more effective working behind the scenes. …”

Chapek said in a call to Governor DeSantis he expressed his disappointment and “concern that if the legislation becomes law it could be used to target LGBTQ+ kids and families. 

Chapek also noted that Disney is “reassessing our approach to advocacy, including political giving in Florida and beyond.”

Late Thursday Gov. DeSantis told supporters in Boca Raton there is “zero” chance he’s going to reverse his position on disallowing the instruction of “transgenderism in kindergarten classrooms.”

And then DeSantis responded to Chapek’s comments

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Disney CEO Opposes ‘Anti-Grooming’ Bill, Will Meet with DeSantis

On Wednesday, Disney CEO Bob Chapek informed shareholders at the company’s annual meeting that Disney opposes the Parental Rights in Education legislation and that the actions by the Florida legislature could impact future political donations.

Critics of the bill – which passed the Senate and the House and awaits action by Governor DeSantis – have repeatedly mischaracterized provisions in the legislation while using the “Don’t Say Gay” moniker to rally opposition among progressives and the LGBTQ community.

Disney has been criticized in the national media and by elected officials in Florida.

Florida Representative Anna V. Eskamami, who represents parts of Orlando, called on “the Walt Disney Company to STOP donating to the campaigns of state lawmakers that sponsor anti-LGBTQ+bills, like the “Don’t Say Gay” bill…”

At the close of his prepared remarks to shareholders, Chapek said, “I’d like to take moment to address some concerns I’ve heard from many about the legislation impacting the LGBTQ+ community in Florida.”

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Florida Senate Passes Parental Rights in Education Bill Biden Education Secretary Calls ‘Hateful’

Miguel Cardona and Ron DeSantis

The Florida State Senate passed its Parental Rights in Education bill, a measure that would ban classroom teaching on gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-3.

The Senate approved the bill Tuesday by a vote of 22-17.

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DeSantis Spokesperson Responds to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Moniker, Outrage Follows

Christina Pushaw

The spokesperson for Governor DeSantis, Christina Pushaw, responded to the “Don’t Say Gay” label with a moniker of her own and outrage ensued from LGBTQ advocates.

Pushaw tweeted that the “bill that liberals inaccurately call “Don’t Say Gay” would be more accurately described as an Anti-Grooming Bill.” And added, “If you’re against the Anti-Grooming Bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4-8-year-old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”

The backlash was quick.

First, Joe Saunders, the political director for Equality Florida responded by mischaracterizing Pushaw’s comments.

Saunders tweeted, “@GovRonDeSantis chief spokesperson just called us all pedophiles. We’ve always known the #dontsaygaybill was a about anti-lgbtq animus. She just said the quiet part out loud. DSG is on the Senate floor Mon and students are organizing. Bring your outrage to Tallahassee #flapol.”

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Florida Gov. DeSantis Responds to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Label of Parental Rights Bill

On Friday, Governor DeSantis pushed back on the media for labeling the Parental Rights in Education legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

During a press conference a reporter asked DeSantis if he had any comments  “on the protests against the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill?” DeSantis took the opportunity to address the use of the “Don’t Say Gay” label by the reporter.

“You call it that. I’ve not seen that in any of these bills. Where is that coming from? You’re in the news business. Does the truth matter or not? Is that in any of the bills?”, asked DeSantis.

The actual language in the Parental Rights in Education bill  “prohibits a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

However LGBTQ advocates and the legacy media have used the “Don’t Say Gay” label to repeatedly characterize the legislation.

For example, Equality Florida recently released a television advertisement “blasting” Governor DeSantis over the legislation, which the group describes as “LGBTQ censorship.”

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Parent References ‘GenderBread Person’ in Public Testimony on Parental Rights in Education Bill

Students in shop class at school with safety goggles on

The Parental Rights in Education bill his headed to the Senate floor after a debate that referenced the “GenderBread Person”.

The debate featured elected officials questioning the need for a provision which regulated discussions in the classroom. The bill prohibits “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Senator Lauren Book stated the bill was a “solution in search of problem.”

However, during the public testimony part of the meeting, a parent spoke to the committee and provided a real-world example of why she believes this provision of the bill is needed.

January Littlejohn, who is in a legal battle over the guidance provided in a LGBTQ guide used by the Leon County School district, referenced the LGBTQ guide currently providing direction to teachers and officials in Palm Beach County schools.

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LGBTQ Advocates Choose Florida Teachers, School Officials over Parental Involvement When Addressing Gender Issues

A proposed amendment requiring parental involvement when gender and sexuality issues arise at schools was withdrawn after LGBTQ advocates argued that informing parents would be dangerous to students.

The amendment, sponsored by Republican Representative Joe Harding, required school officials to facilitate a meeting between a student and parents to disclose child-specific information.

The amendment states that the “school principal or his or her designee shall develop a plan, using all available governmental resources, to disclose such information within six weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent.”

Florida Representative Carlos Smith (D – Orlando), an outspoken LGBTQ advocate, said the amendment would “make it even more dangerous for vulnerable kids with a STATE-MANDATED outing of LGBTQ students to parents, specifically in cases of abuse, abandonment + neglect. This will have devastating consequences for our youth..”

This position – that parents should not be notified when these issues arise – has been adopted through policies in many school districts throughout Florida via LGBTQ guides. 

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Florida Measure Requiring Parental Involvement with Student Counseling Draws LGBTQ Criticism

Joe Harding

A proposed amendment to the already controversial Parental Rights in Education bill to require parental involvement on sensitive student issues has drawn more criticism from LGBTQ advocates.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Representative Joe Harding, introduced an amendment on Friday which would require school officials to facilitate a meeting between a student and parents to disclose child-specific information.

The amendment states that the “school principal or his or her designee shall develop a plan, using all available governmental resources, to disclose such information within 6 weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent.”

The six-week provision gives school officials a time frame to decide a student is facing unsupportive or abusive parents related to specific issues. If there is a determination by school officials that a student could be in danger from the parents the amendment details a course of action.

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Florida Representative Allison Tant Discusses Budget, Voting Bill, and Parental Rights in Education

On Thursday, Florida House Representative Allison Tant (District-9, Tallahassee) appeared on The Steve Stewart Show on RealTalk93.3 to discuss the 2022 Florida legislative session.

Tant’s district covers most of downtown Tallahassee and the northern Tallahassee metropolitan area. The district includes Florida State University and the Florida State Capitol.  A large college and urban population coupled with a significant number of state employees makes the district an easy win for Democrats. In 2020 Tant beat her Republican opponent by 15%.

As an elected official, Tant, who is a former chair of the Florida Democratic Party, must work with Republicans who control the Florida House. Tant noted that there are “more things that we agree on than we disagree on. It’s just that the splashy issues get all the attention.”

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Emails Show School District Officials – Funded by Taxpayers – Teamed with Equality Florida to Advocate for LGBTQ Issues

Emails from a Florida Capital Star information request show that Florida school officials in districts across the state have been recruited by Equality Florida to promote LGBTQ issues.

Equality Florida is a left-wing political group that advocates for civil rights and protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBQT+) residents in Florida. The group has come out against the current Parental Rights in Education bill now being considered in the Florida Legislature.

The emails, covering 2016 to 2020, show how De Palazzo, the Safe & Healthy Schools director for Equality Florida, engaged one school district official form Leon County to help with Equality Florida’s mission.

In 2016, Palazzo reached out to Dr. Kathleen Rodgers and wrote “I am working and meeting in about 20 school districts and would be happy to assist your district as well in the form of direct service, meeting with teams, etc. A friendly reminder that there is no fee for service because I know that budgets are tight and for this important subject, fees could be a deterrent.”

Later emails indicate Rodgers became part of what Palazzo often referred to as a “team”

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Equality Florida Targets DeSantis, Parental Rights Bill in Political Ad

group of people recording a political ad

Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy group, released a television advertisement on Monday “blasting” Governor DeSantis over the Parental Rights in Education Bill (SB 1834), which the group describes as “LGBTQ censorship and surveillance agenda.”

Critics of the Parental Rights in Education legislation labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and have refused to answer questions about the other provisions of the bill, focused on parental rights. These provisions require parental notification related to certain actions taken at school and “adopt procedures that reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children.”

The ad, shown below, refers to a provision in the Parental Rights in Education bill that “prohibits a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

The ad shows a student giving a classroom presentation.  When the student mentions she has two moms, alarms start going off in the classroom and she is asked to report to the office.

Equality Florida contends that “the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which bans discussion of LGBTQ in primary grades, would further stigmatize the LGBTQ community, chill efforts to create inclusive school environments, and isolate LGBTQ young people who are already at staggeringly higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation than their peers.”

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Florida Reporter Adopts ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Moniker for Parental Rights Bill

Ana Goñi-Lessan

Ana Goni-Lessan, a Florida education reporter with the Gannett-owned Tallahassee Democrat, has adopted the “Don’t Say Gay” moniker when referencing the Parental Rights in Education bill which is working its way through the Florida Legislature.

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