Former Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has said she was “shocked” after reading Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education Bill,” but not for the same reasons as many other Democrats. The legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, forbids discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in public school classrooms for kindergarten through third grade, which Gabbard says may not go far enough.
“I was shocked to learn it only protects kids from kindergarten until third grade. Third grade? What about 12th grade or not at all?” Gabbard said in a video posted to her Twitter on Monday. The former congresswoman then turned her sights on the government, saying they have “no place in our personal lives” or “our bedrooms.”
Parental rights, she claimed, “are under attack all across the country,” including in Florida where the “Don’t Say Gay” bill has become a lightning rod for controversy. Critics claim the bill discriminates and could affect what is taught in classrooms, while supporters have pointed out the fact that the word “gay” appears nowhere in the short bill.
Gabbard, who unsuccessfully ran for the 2020 presidential nomination as a Democrat, called on schools to focus on essential education, something Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has also said when defending the education bill.
“Our schools are failing. Nationally, 34 percent of our students are below basic reading level in the fourth grade. 25 percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Now I’m confident that if our schools focused on educating our kids … we would see our literacy rates improve and set our young people up for success,” Gabbard said.