TAMPA — Gov. Ron DeSantis chose a Christian school as his setting for signing bills Wednesday that ban gender affirming care for minors, restricts pronoun use in schools and forces people to use the bathroom corresponding with their sex in some cases.
DeSantis has made anti-LGBTQ+ legislation a large part of his agenda as he builds towards a Republican presidential campaign. He signed the bills in front of a cheering crowd at the Cambridge Christian School in Tampa. The ceremony had a campaign-like feel, as opposed to when he signed measures on abortion and gun rights in private.
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“It’s kind of sad that we even have some of these discussions,” DeSantis told the crowd as he stood behind a lectern with a sign that read “Let Kids Be Kids.”
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book said the bills were examples of hateful discrimination. “Trampling equality is not freedom,” she said.
These bills take us several steps back as a society that’s fought hard for progress and equality. Being gay or trans isn’t perverse. It isn’t dangerous. What’s dangerous is the discrimination legalized today.— Lauren Book (@LeaderBookFL) May 17, 2023
De Santis said the new laws will prevent mutilation of minors, protect children from “sexually explicit” entertainment and keep pronouns from being forced on students.
“We never did this through all of human history until like, what, two weeks ago? Now this is something? They’re having third graders declare pronouns? We’re not doing the pronoun Olympics in Florida,” DeSantis said to applause.
Republic Rep. Randy Fine, who sponsored the ban on gender affirming care for minors, invoked his religion to defend the state’s actions.
“God does not make mistakes with our children,” he said.
Democrats opposed the bills and LGBTQ+ rallies were held at the Capitol during the session that ended two weeks ago, but Republicans have a super majority in both chambers and the bills easily moved through the legislative process.