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Florida governor signs bill limiting LGBTQ instruction in schools

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday signed into law a Republican-backed bill that would prohibit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for many young students.

The legislation, referred to by its opponents as the “don’t say gay” bill, has stirred national controversy amid an increasingly partisan debate over what schools should teach children about race and gender.

“We will continue to recognize that in the state of Florida, parents have a fundamental role in the education, health care and well being of their children,” DeSantis told a press conference before signing the bill. “I don’t care what big corporations say, here I stand. I’m not backing down.”

Students across Florida have protested the measure, President Joe Biden called it “hateful” and some corporate leaders including Walt Disney Co DIS.N Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek have expressed concern about the bill becoming law.

DeSantis, who is seeking re-election this year and is widely considered a 2024 presidential candidate, has joined other Republicans in calling for parents to have more control of what young children learn in school.

Formally called the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, the Florida measure bars classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through third grade, or from about ages 5-9, in public schools.

It also prohibits such teaching that “is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for students in other grades. Under the law, parents will be allowed to sue school districts they believe to be in violation.

LGBTQ and civil rights advocates as well as Democratic politicians have said such policies will harm the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

The legislation has been criticized for the vagueness and complexity of some of its language. For example, it says that even discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation is prohibited “in certain grade levels or in a specified manner.”

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