Maryland Governor Larry Hogan attacked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a fellow Republican, on Sunday over the Sunshine State’s new law placing limits on discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.
Hogan dismissed the Parental Rights in Education bill — dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by critics — as ‘absurd’ and criticized DeSantis for getting into a public spat with the Walt Disney Company over the matter.
‘I didn’t really actually see the details of the legislation, but the whole thing seems like just a crazy fight,’ Hogan told CNN’s State of the Union.
Critics of the bill say it unfairly targets LGBTQI+ youth and represses their ability to be themselves at a critical time in kids’ development.
After mounting pressure to act, Disney — which accounts for the majority of Florida’s tourism industry — publicly condemned the legislation. In response, DeSantis said last week that he would be ‘receptive’ to revoking a more than 50-year-old law granting the entertainment giant power to self-govern its Disney World property.
During his Sunday interview, Hogan called out Florida’s governor over an apparent double-standard in his treatment of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic versus threatening Disney for not toeing the line now.
‘It concerns me that DeSantis is always talking about, you know, he was not demanding that businesses do things, but he was telling the cruise lines what they had to do,’ Hogan said in reference to Florida waging a legal battle against Norwegian Cruise Lines over its vaccine mandate for passengers.
Hogan said he was ‘concerned’ by what he described as a double-standard in how DeSantis treats freedom of speech in Florida
‘He was telling local schools what they — mandating — and now he wants to criticize Disney for expressing how they feel about that bill.’
Hogan pointed out that Disney had ‘freedom of speech’ guaranteeing the company could freely criticize the government without fear of repercussions.
‘I mean, they have every right to,’ he said, adding that he could not see the same law play out in his own state of Maryland.
‘We have a thing called freedom of speech. They can come out and say what they think. I think the bill was kind of absurd and not something that would have happened in our state,’ Hogan said.
DailyMail.com has reached out to DeSantis’ office for comment.
The very public criticism of one Republican governor to another is emblematic of a larger, growing rift between the pro-Donald Trump faction of the GOP — more inclined to focus on aspects of the culture war — and more establishment figures who want to forge ahead with traditional Republican tenets of fiscal responsibility and small government.
November’s midterm elections are expected to put both ideologies to the test as the different wings compete for the future of the GOP.
DeSantis signed the Parental Rights In Education bill late last month, prohibiting classroom instruction on ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ by teachers and other education staff for children in kindergarten through third grade
After mounting public pressure, Disney finally responded by condemning the bill and announcing it would donate millions to pro-LGBTQI+ causes (pictured: Disney employees stage a rally to protest the bill on March 12)
The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which DeSantis signed into law this month, prohibits classroom instruction on ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ by teachers and other education staff for children in kindergarten through third grade.
For older grades, it mandates that discussion of such matters in the classroom are ‘age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.’
It also includes provisions requiring that school staff such as teachers, nurses or guidance counselors alert parents if there’s a ‘change’ in a student’s mental health or welfare. The bill grants parents the right to sue school districts and educators who run afoul of those rules.
Supporters point out that the bill’s text does not explicitly include the word ‘gay’ and claim it’s a way for parents to ensure their kids are getting a safe, age-appropriate education.
But critics say it teaches young kids to believe they are wrong for being different somehow, and by forcing schools to report that students are receiving mental health services, it’s taking away a safe space for those students to be themselves when they can’t always do so at home.
President Joe Biden denounced the law as ‘hateful’ while it was working its way through Florida’s legislature in February.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said it was a ‘form of bullying.’
Late last month, Disney park employees staged a walkout in opposition to the new law.
Disney’s vow to try and help repeal the law prompted outrage among Republican lawmakers in Florida and spurred calls to repeal the 1967 Reedy Creek Improvement Act, which gives the conglomerate the ability to govern the territory its park sits on.
‘Disney has alienated a lot of people now, and so the political influence they’re used to wielding, I think has dissipated,’ DeSantis said during a press conference in West Palm Beach at the end of March.
‘And so the question is, why would you want to have special privileges in the law at all? And I don’t think that that we should.’
And last week, LGBTQI+ groups Equality Florida and Family Equality filed a lawsuit aiming to stop the law from going into effect in July.
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