Biden administration meets with Florida LGBTQ community on 'Don't Say Gay' bill

The bill awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis' signature.

March 18, 2022, 11:15 AM

Officials from the Biden administration met with Florida LGBTQ students and their families in a virtual roundtable concerning the now-dubbed "Don't Say Gay" bill and other legislative efforts advocates deem anti-LGBTQ.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Rachel L. Levine, assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, listened to the students and their family members discuss concerns and fears about the impact of such bills.

The two were advised on what resources could be provided to support the Florida LGBTQ community.

"Laws around the country, including in Florida, have targeted and sought to bully some of our most vulnerable students and families, and create division in our schools," Cardona said in a statement.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona provides an update on the Biden-Harris Administrations actions to improve public safety in all communities during an event at the the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., March 16, 2022.
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

He added: "My message to you is that this Administration won't stand for bullying or discrimination of any kind, and we will use our authorities to protect, support, and provide opportunities for LGBTQI+ students and all students."

The Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by LGBTQ activists, would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Under this legislation, these lessons "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."

The bill would also allow parents to sue school districts that engage in these topics. The bill is awaiting a decision from Gov. Ron DeSantis.

PHOTO: Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the "Say Gay Anyway" rally in Miami, March 13, 2022. Florida's state senate passed a bill banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools.
Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the "Say Gay Anyway" rally in Miami, on March 13, 2022. Florida's state senate passed a bill banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools which critics complain will hurt the LGBTQ community. Opposition Democrats and LGBTQ rights activists have lobbied against the "Don't Say Gay" law, which will affect kids in kindergarten through third grade.
Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration has denounced the efforts as "hateful."

"Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children's safety, protection, and freedom," the White House said in a statement Feb. 8.

It continued: "Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most – LGBTQI+ students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and violence just for being themselves."

After the bill was passed by the Florida House and Senate, Cardona slammed the legislators responsible for its passage.

"The Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX's protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," Cardona said.

Levine and Cardona also shared with students and families the mental health resources and support that are currently available for these students.

"We need to support LGBTQI+ youth, their parents and families to help them achieve the good health and quality care they deserve," Levine said. "Our communities have a champion in President Biden. The President supports equality and works to ensure everyone is represented. And that gives people a voice, a chance to effect change, to help people understand the diverse needs of our nation."

Legislation targeting the LGBTQ community has sent shockwaves throughout the U.S.

States continue to debate whether trans youth should receive gender-affirming health care, whether trans girls should be allowed to play girls' sports, or whether LGBTQ content can be taught in schools.

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