Florida's governor praises passage of controversial education bills

Contentious measures deal with sexual orientation/gender identity and racial teachings
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference in Tallahassee on March 14, 2022.jpg
Posted at 2:20 PM, Mar 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 14:20:24-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's governor on Monday praised the state legislature for passing two controversial education bills that many call discriminatory and concerning.

Last week, the Florida Senate approved the "Parental Rights In Education" measure — which critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill — as well as the "Individual Freedom" plan that bans certain racial teachings in schools.


Speaking in Tallahassee on Monday after the Florida Legislature approved a record $112 billion state budget, DeSantis addressed the passage of both bills, which he's eventually expected to sign into law.

"I can just say, as the parent of three kids that are age five and under, thank you for letting me and my wife be able to send our kids to kindergarten without them being sexualized," DeSantis said of the "Parental Rights In Education" bill.

The contentious measure bans "classroom instruction" of "sexual orientation or gender identity" in kindergarten through third grade, or in a manner that is "not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students."

Supporters argued the legislation gives parents and guardians more control over what their children learn in school.

"[Parents] do not want this in kindergarten or first grade or second grade. We want our kids to be kids," DeSantis said Monday.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks education bills

Critics, however, feel the bill is discriminatory and threatens the acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ students.

It should be noted that no public schools in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, or Okeechobee counties teach lessons on sexual orientation or gender identity to children in kindergarten through third grade, as that type of curriculum is not approved under the Sunshine State Standards set forth by the Florida Department of Education.

RELATED: Palm Beach County School Board member calls passage of education bill 'disheartening'

The "Individual Freedom" plan, meanwhile, tackles the issue of race education in Florida schools.

While the legislation doesn't explicitly address the controversial topic of Critical Race Theory by name, it does ban educators from teaching students that "one race, color, national origin, or sex are morally superior to members of another race, color, national origin, or sex" and that "a person, by virtue of his or her race, color, national origin, or sex is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously."

In addition, it prohibits teachers from forcing students to feel guilty or responsible about historical events because of their race.

"If you look at the transparency provisions, if you look at what they did to make sure that we're not treating people different on the basis of race, we in Florida showed a commitment to education, not to indoctrination," DeSantis said Monday.

Opponents worry the bill is too vague, will chill race education in the state, and also open a door to frivolous litigation.

Critical Race Theory is not part of Florida's Sunshine State Standards, and is thus not taught in any K-12 public schools in the state.

RELATED: Palm Beach County parents, educators concerned about passage of race education bill

According to legislative documents, DeSantis has not signed either education bill into law yet.