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Biden Admin Slams Republicans for Targeting, Attacking LGBTQ+ Students

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden called Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bills "hateful" and assured LGBTQ+ Americans that "you are loved and accepted just as you are."

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President Joe Biden has come strongly against the "don't say gay" legislation pending in Florida.

Biden tweeted about the issue Tuesday afternoon, after a White House spokesperson had released a statement denouncing the Florida proposal.

Biden's tweet called the Florida legislation "hateful" and assured LGBTQ+ Americans that "you are loved and accepted just as you are."

The legislation is composed of two textually identical bills, one in the Florida House and one in the Senate. Of the various sections, the bills state, "A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students."

That language is a small portion of the bills, which backers say will assure parents' oversight over their children's education. Opponents say the legislation will further marginalize LGBTQ+ students and possibly force teachers to out students to their parents. A House committee approved that chamber's bill last month, and a Senate committee OK'd its version Tuesday; the bills await further action. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has indicated he supports the legislation.

With Biden's tweet and the statement from the White House, his administration has placed itself squarely in the opposition camp.

"Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children's safety, protection, and freedom," the statement reads. "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. But make no mistake -- this is not an isolated action. Across the country, we're seeing Republican leaders take actions to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be. This is politics at its worse, cynically using our students as pawns in political warfare. At every step of the way, Republicans have peddled in cheap, political attacks, instead of focusing on the issues parents, students, and teachers care about.

"Instead of making growing up even harder for our young people, President Biden and his administration are focused on keeping schools open, providing resources to combat learning loss, and supporting students' mental health. The difference in leadership could not be more stark, and the Biden-Harris administration will not shy away from holding leaders accountable for dangerous actions that hurt our nation's students.

"Just imagine what it would feel like to be a kid watching the leaders in your state bully you through legislation that tries to erase your existence. These types of attacks are the root cause of the mental health crisis that LGBTQI+ face. The president wants LGBTQI+ young people who may be feeling scared or alone because of these legislative attacks to know that they are loved exactly for who they are, and that he won't stop fighting for the protections and safety they deserve."

Chasten Buttigieg, a former teacher who is married to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, has spoken out against the bills as well, as have several other LGBTQ+ leaders.

DeSantis, considered a possible Republican presidential candidate for 2024, was asked about the legislation at a Monday press conference. He didn't say for certain that he'd sign it into law, but he signaled support.

It's "entirely inappropriate" for teachers to talk to students about gender identity, he said, according to NBC News. He claimed that in some schools, children are advised, "Don't worry, don't pick your gender yet." He admitted this isn't happening widely, though.

"The larger issue with all of this is parents must have a seat at the table when it comes to what's going on in their schools," he added.

LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida quickly condemned DeSantis's remarks, saying he is "using anti-LGBTQ legislation as a springboard to serve his national political ambitions."

"His political agenda is driven not by the real pressing needs of our state but his desire to peel away Trump supporters as the two jockey for the 2024 GOP presidential primary," the group tweeted. "He is willing to inflict harm on the most vulnerable in FL in order to shore up his extremist base."

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