DeSantis accuses reporter of peddling ‘false narrative’ on education bill in heated press conference clash

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Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., clashed with a local reporter who asked him about education legislation widely characterized by liberal critics and the media as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

An education reform bill advanced by Florida Republicans has garnered national attention and been derided by progressives as being anti-LGBTQ with accusations that the bill forbids any discussion pertaining to being gay in schools. 

The bill, officially named Parental Rights in Education, states, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity 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.”

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While appearing at a press conference on Monday, DeSantis was confronted by WFLA reporter Evan Donovan on “what critics call the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.”

In this photo from Feb. 24, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2022 CPAC conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando.

In this photo from Feb. 24, 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers remarks at the 2022 CPAC conference at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando.
(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“Does it say that in the bill?” DeSantis asked. “Does it say that in the bill?”

As Donovan attempted to respond, DeSantis interjected, “I’m asking what’s in the bill because you are pushing false narratives. It doesn’t matter what critics say.”

Donovan then tried quoting the text of the bill, “It says ‘Classroom instruction on sexual identity and gender orientation,’” but was pummeled further by the governor.

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“For who?” For grades pre-K through three, no five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds,” DeSantis told the reporter. “And the idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says, it’s why people don’t trust people like you because you peddle false narratives. And so we just disabused you of those narratives.”

“And we’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum,” DeSantis added. 

Last week, DeSantis had a similar exchange with another reporter where he elaborated on his support for the legislation. 

“How many parents want their kindergarteners to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction? And so I think those are very young kids. I think the legislature is basically trying to give parents assurance that they’re gonna be able to go and this stuff’s not gonna be there,” DeSantis said.

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“But there’s nothing in the bill that says anything about ‘you can’t say’ or ‘this say.’ It’s basically saying for our youngest students… do you really want them to be taught about– and this is any sexual stuff, but I think clearly right now, we see a lot of focus on the transgenderism – telling kids that they may be able to pick genders and all that. I don’t think parents want that for these young kids, so I think that’s what they were trying to do, and I think that’s justifiable,” he continued. 

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