CLAIM: Conservative Florida legislators are targeting vulnerable gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex children.
VERDICT: FALSE. The legislation does not mention any particular sexuality and applies to teaching in “primary grades.”
The Biden White House has attacked a Florida bill restricting the teaching of sexuality among young children that Democrats are referring to as “Don’t Say Gay,” but the bill does not refer to “gay” and only applies from kindergarten through third grade.
On Tuesday, the White House claimed: “Today, conservative politicians in Florida advanced legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids.” (The “I,” a new Biden-era addition to the acronym, stands for “intersex,” and refers to those who are born with biological characteristics that are not typically male or female.)
Today, conservative politicians in Florida advanced legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids. Instead of making growing up harder for young people, @POTUS is focused on keeping schools open and supporting students' mental health.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 8, 2022
The White House specifically referred to the legislation as “Don’t Say Gay”:
In response to FL "Don't Say Gay" bills, "The President wants #LGBTQI+ young people who may be feeling scared or alone to know that they are loved exactly for who they are, and that he won’t stop fighting for the protections and safety they deserve." https://t.co/Wz7P7kkM1O
— pilitobar46 (@pilitobar46) February 8, 2022
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed Tuesday that the bill was “designed to target and attack the kids who need the support — support the most: kids from the LGBTQI+ community who are already vulnerable to bullying.”
But the legislation that is causing such a stir among Democrats and journalists does not mention “gay” or any specific sexuality.
The text of the relevant portion of the bill reads: “A school district may not encourage 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 term “primary grade levels” was vague enough that the author of the legislation, Rep. Joe Harding (R-Williston), faced questions about it in committee discussions. He said that the as Tampa-area NBC affiliate WFLA-8 reported:
Facing questions from other members of the committee, Harding said teachers, school administrators, councilors were recognized as those who could decide what qualified as age or developmentally appropriate.
Harding also said children ages “six, seven, eight to 11-years-old” were what he viewed as qualifying for the primary grade levels the bill, if passed, would bar from discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity. Upon further questions during the hearing, Harding clarified that he would consider primary grades as K-5.
Upon questions by 8 On Your Side, the Florida Dept. of Education said it considers grades K-12 as primary grade levels. However, representatives at the committee hearing said clarification of what constitutes primary schools are not defined in the Florida Statutes, and requested an amendment to the bill to clarify the age range Harding intended.
Such an amendment has not yet been adopted, which critics of the bill may have exploited to suggest that it refers to older students.
The legislation is motivated by concerns among parents that transgender ideology, and discussions of sexuality in general, are being imposed on prepubescent children.
The bill passed a Florida House of Representatives committee vote last month and the Florida Senate is considering a similar bill.
Psaki said Wednesday that the bill attempts “to really regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and, most troubling, who they can or cannot be.”
However, every school district in the country has policies that regulate curriculum choices.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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