Former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard broke with her party and expressed strong support Monday for Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill.
The law, which Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a week ago, prohibits teachers from talking about sexual orientation and gender identity with children from kindergarten to the third grade.
The legislation stirred up a national debate about discussing sexuality in the classroom, with critics, including prominent Democrats, deeming the legislation anti-LGBT and disingenuously calling it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Democratic Florida state Sen. Lauren Book described the bill as “a direct attack on Florida’s LGBTQ+ community,” according to Politico.
Orlando sixth-grade teacher Robert Thollander, who is gay, told NBC News that he was switching professions because of the bill.
“A lot of trust is given to teachers, and it made it seem like I wasn’t trusted because there’s something wrong with me for being gay,” Thollander told the outlet.
“It makes it seem like being gay is something vile or disturbing or disgusting when it’s described as making children uncomfortable knowing that I’m married to a man. It hurt,” he said.
Breaking ranks with her fellow Democrats, Gabbard told her Twitter followers that “we should all support the Parental Rights in Education bill” in a video she shared.
The former Hawaii congresswoman stressed that “parental rights are under attack all across the country as the government tries to usurp parents’ rights and responsibility to raise their own children.”
The Florida bill “bans governments and government schools from indoctrinating woke sexual values in our schools,” Gabbard said, explaining that schoolchildren are a “captive audience” because the law requires them to be present in school.
However, Gabbard said she was “shocked” that the law safeguards students only through grade three. “Third grade? What about 12th grade? Or not at all?”
When I first heard about Florida’s Parental Rights bill, I was shocked it only protects children K-3. Third grade? How about 12th grade—or not at all. Meanwhile, schools are failing: 1 in 4 graduates are functionally illiterate. Parents should raise their kids, not the government pic.twitter.com/CycF8cKRh3
— Tulsi Gabbard ? (@TulsiGabbard) April 4, 2022
“Now government has no place in our personal lives. Government has no place in our bedrooms. Parents are the ones responsible for raising their kids and instilling in them a moral foundation, not the government,” the former congresswoman told viewers.
She noted that on a nationwide level, “34 percent of students are below basic reading level in the fourth grade” and “25 percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate.”
“Now I’m confident that if our schools focused on educating our kids, teaching them the fundamentals — things like English, math, science, civics, history — we would see our literacy rates improve and set our young people up for success,” Gabbard said.
“They’ll be thinking logically, thinking critically and thinking for themselves,” she said. “This is what our public schools should focus on.”
The original text of the Florida bill reads, “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.”
Furthermore, the law says, “At the beginning of the school year, each school district shall notify parents of each healthcare service offered at their student’s school and the option to withhold consent or decline any specific service.”
“Parental consent to a health care service does not waive the parent’s right to access his or her student’s educational or health records or to be notified about a change in his or her student’s services or monitoring,” it says.
The Walt Disney Co., under pressure from LGBT activist employees, took issue with the legislation and ended up in an ongoing feud with DeSantis, who threatened to revoke the park’s special self-governing status.
“I don’t care what corporate media outlets say,” the governor said when signing the legislation. “I don’t care what Hollywood says. I don’t care what big corporations say. Here I stand, I’m not backing down.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.