The US Education Secretary showcased his support for Florida’s LGBTQ+ youth amidst the ongoing ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill backlash.
On 8 March, the horrific legislation passed in the Republican-led Senate by a vote of 22-17.
Under the proposed bill, “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” would be restricted in elementary schools.
Over these last few weeks, LGBTQ+ activists and political figures –including President Joe Biden – have condemned the state.
Recently, US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services Rachel L. Levine affirmed their support for queer youth during a virtual forum.
On 17 March, the two political officials held a meeting with some of Florida’s LGBTQ+ students and their families to discuss their concerns.
According to ABC News, the duo also shared mental health resources for struggling individuals.
Shortly after the supportive call, Cardona released a statement reassuring the protection of queer youth throughout the US.
“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,” he said.
I mean it. We’ve got your back. https://t.co/hhnoh55qrs
— Secretary Miguel Cardona (@SecCardona) March 18, 2022
“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 LGBQTI+ students and all students.”
Levine echoed similar sentiments before reiterating the Biden administration’s support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“We need to support LGBTQI+ youth, their parents and families to help them achieve the good health and quality care they deserve. Our communities have a champion in President Biden,” she said.
“The President supports equality and works to ensure everyone is represented. And that gives people a voice, a change, to help people understand the diverse needs of our nation.”
Since Thursday’s meeting, parents and students have come out and praised Cardona for his allyship.
“I wish our governor was as supportive as our Secretary of Education. He has our back,” Miami-Dade County resident Jennifer Solomon told The Independent. “He’s going to do everything he can from the federal level to make sure that our kids are still going to be protected and respected.”
Since lawmakers first introduced the bill, Governor Ron DeSantis has doubled down on his support for the archaic legislation.
In response to the inclusive meeting, DeSantis’ spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, gave an email statement encouraging people not to be “misled by false media narratives.”
“We would say to Secretary Cardona the same thing we would say to anyone else with concerns about the bill – they should read it carefully in final form,” she wrote per The Independent.
After passing in the state’s Senate, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is now headed to DeSantis’ desk, who will likely sign it into law.