U.S. Secretary of Education for Florida LGBTQ Children: You’re Supported | Radio WGN 720

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — In another clash between President Joe Biden’s administration and Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona spoke with LGBTQ students to say that the federal government supports them even if the governor does not.

Cardona’s Thursday call with students, parents and teachers was a response to opponents of Florida legislation who call the ‘don’t say gay’ bill, which bans teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. The legislature passed the bill and DeSantis is expected to sign it.

“The goal here is not to create a division. We just want these kids to be able to go to school, learn, get the support they need. All parents want this for their children,” Cardona said in a phone interview Friday. “We want to support all students, including our gay and transgender students, and they needed to hear that directly from me.”

The ‘don’t say gay’ bill was one of many DeSantis pushed during the legislative session that many saw as a culture war he was creating to galvanize a conservative base as he considered running for office. presidency in 2024.

The bill states: “In-class instruction by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity may not take place from kindergarten through grade 3 or in any manner that is not appropriate for the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards.” Parents could sue districts for violation.

DeSantis was outspoken in his support, saying that as the father of three young children, he didn’t want them to be “sexualized” in kindergarten.

“We would say to Secretary Cardona the same thing we would say to anyone else concerned about the bill – they should read it carefully in its final form and not be misled by false media accounts,” the door said. -DeSantis’ word, Christina Pushaw, in an email. . “Developmentally appropriate education, which means that no theoretical instruction on sex and gender is taught from kindergarten to grade 3, promotes the emotional well-being of children.”

DeSantis has clashed with the Biden administration on a number of issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to immigration.

People on the phone with Cardona said DeSantis pushes back on accepting LGBTQ people. They called the legislation unnecessary and divisive.

“I wish our governor was as supportive as our secretary of education was,” said Jennifer Solomon, a Miami-Dade County parent of a lesbian and gender nonconforming 11-year-old son. “He has our back. He will do everything he can at the federal level to ensure that our children will always be protected and respected. »

Madeline Kopka, an 18-year-old high school student from Tallahassee, was also on the call.

“He told us how much he hates the bill passed last session and he will fight with us,” she said. “It will kill children.”

She said that for many LGBTQ children, trusted teachers can be a source of comfort in discussing their feelings.

“A lot of them can’t go home to their families and express who they really are. I think that’s a big deal and we’re just going back in time and it’s awful,” she said. said “I really don’t understand why (DeSantis) is doing this.”

Cardona declined to speculate on DeSantis’ motives, but said the bill would have a negative effect on students.

“I had a parent tell me he’s using students as political pawns,” Cardona said. “I don’t know the motive; I will tell you that the impact creates a sense of fear and despair at a time when they need support the most.

He called DeSantis’ push for the legislation “sad.”

“This is an intentional effort to create division in our schools,” Cardona said. “Our country needs unity now, not division.”

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