Controversial teachers union president slams Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill

The president of the American Federation of Teachers (ATF) bashed Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, claiming it’s harmful propaganda fueled by right-winged politicians that could start wars.    

Randi Weingarten, whose union represents 1.7 million teachers and has garnered controversy over school closures during the pandemic and supporting lessons based on Critical Race Theory, spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which bans teaching kids in kindergarten through third grade about transgender issues. 

‘This is propaganda. This is misinformation,’ Weingarten said during an interview on the Rick Smith podcast last week. ‘This is the way in which wars start. This is the way in which hatred starts.’

The ATF, one of the two largest teacher’s union in the nation, has been a vocal critic of Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing the Republican of creating division in schools with the latest state legislation against ‘wokeness.’  

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, criticized Florida’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill as propaganda spread by right-wing politicians that could start wars

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill last month (pictured), which bans teaching kids in kindergarten through third grade about transgender issues. He has come under fire from educators, politicians, and even Disney

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill last month (pictured), which bans teaching kids in kindergarten through third grade about transgender issues. He has come under fire from educators, politicians, and even Disney  

Weingarten (pictured), whose union represents 1.7 million teachers and has garnered controversy over school closures during the pandemic and supporting lessons based on Critical Race Theory, said the bill would effectively put LGBTQ children 'back into the closet'

Weingarten (pictured), whose union represents 1.7 million teachers and has garnered controversy over school closures during the pandemic and supporting lessons based on Critical Race Theory, said the bill would effectively put LGBTQ children ‘back into the closet’

What is the Parental Rights in Education bill?

HB 1557 was introduced by two Republican members of the Florida Legislature – Representative Joe Harding and Senator Dennis Baxley.

They say the bill’s aim is to ’empower parents’ in their children’s education, and make teachers recognize the distinction between ‘instruction’ and ‘discussion.’

‘What we’re prohibiting is instructing them in a specific direction,’ Baxley said about how teachers lead students in a classroom. 

‘Students can talk about whatever they want to bring up, but sometimes the right answer is, ”You really ought to talk to your parents about that.”’

The bill applies to children in kindergarten through third grade.

It states that ‘classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur.’

It also requires districts to ‘adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,’ something LGBTQ advocates argue could lead to students being outed to their parents without the student’s knowledge or consent.

It was passed on March 8 in a 22-17 vote. The state House had approved the bill late last month. DeSantis signed it into law on March 28 and it will come into effect on July 1.

Weingarten said parents, educators and politicians needed to come together to help students recover from the effects the pandemic has had on schools.  

‘Instead of just doing that, these right-wing ideologues are just trying to create fear and anxiety and anger, exploiting this fear that parents have,’ Weingarten told Smith. 

‘They’re using politics, creating intense long-term, harmful, cruel and political ramification.’ 

Weingarten said the bill would effectively put LGBTQ children ‘back into the closet’ and teach kids that transgender topics are taboo. 

She previously mentioned that while schools welcome parents to participate in their children’s education, the conversations have been taken over by a ‘vocal minority’ looking to do more harm than good. 

‘We have a lot to do to help kids recover and thrive this year after two years of an unprecedented pandemic,’ Weingarten told Fox News

‘So rather than help us help our kids socially, academically and emotionally, these vocal minorities want to marginalize LGBTQ kids, censor teachers and ban books.’ 

She also told Smith that the ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill,’ and bans on Critical Race Theory and Social Emotion Learning in Florida are unwarranted restrictions on not only teachers, but also on student’s ability to learn. 

‘We help [students] learn how to think, not what to think, and have the tools so they can discern between fact and fiction,” Weingarten said. 

‘That scares the bejeezus out of these extremist who don’t want kids to know how to think. They don’t want kids to empathize with people who may be different, but that is how America gets better.’ 

The Parental Rights in Education bill, which DeSantis signed into law last month, has faced opposition from educators and politicians around the country, including President Joe Biden, and has led to state lawmakers stripping Disney of its special status as a self-governing area due to the company’s public bashing of DeSantis and the bill. 

Florida lawmakers voted on Thursday to strip Disney of its special status as a self-governing area as the war between DeSantis and the company rages on over the bill

Florida lawmakers voted on Thursday to strip Disney of its special status as a self-governing area as the war between DeSantis and the company rages on over the bill

In March, Disney said it would suspend political donations in the state and added that it would in turn support organizations working to oppose the new law

In March, Disney said it would suspend political donations in the state and added that it would in turn support organizations working to oppose the new law 

The House passed the measure with a 68-38 vote after the Senate backed the bill by 23-16 the day before. The legislation will now go to DeSantis’ desk for signing and could come into effect on June 1, 2023.

The governor has previously issued support for the measure, saying during a fundraising pitch Wednesday: ‘Disney and other woke corporations won’t get away with peddling their unchecked pressure campaigns any longer.

‘If we want to keep the Democrat machine and their corporate lapdogs accountable, we have to stand together now.’

Some lawmakers, however, claimed the dissolution of the district could cause significant financial hardship for the nearby Orange and Osceola counties, which house sections of Walt Disney World and its Reedy Creek Improvement District.

The counties, on June 1, 2023, would assume all of Reedy Creek’s assets and liabilities and become responsible for providing all of the services currently handled by the district, CNBC reported.

Currently, Disney finances the services supplied by Reedy Creek, which would normally be funded by local municipalities. The company, instead, charges itself property taxes to finance its service and pays the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement.

Once Reedy Creek is dismantled, local taxpayers and municipalities would likely be responsible for those services.

‘Removing district could transfer $2billion debt from Disney to taxpayers and could potential have an enormous impact on Orange and Osceola residents!’ State Sen. Linda Stewart, who voted against the bill, tweeted Wednesday.

The House on Thursday also approved a Senate-passed bill that removes Disney’s big tech censorship exemption.

Disney did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment on the changes and it remains unclear if the company will launch an appeal, but the vote sets up a potential legal battle between the state and the entertainment giant.

President Joe Biden criticized 'ugly' Republicans for targeting Disney at his two west coast fundraisers Thursday. Earlier he gave an infrastructure speech in Portland, Oregon (pictured)

President Joe Biden criticized ‘ugly’ Republicans for targeting Disney at his two west coast fundraisers Thursday. Earlier he gave an infrastructure speech in Portland, Oregon (pictured)

On Thursday, Biden criticized ‘ugly’ Republicans for targeting Disney and said the GOP has been taken over by the ‘far right’ in his speeches at two Democratic fundraisers on the West Coast.

‘This is not your father’s Republican Party. This is the MAGA party,’ Biden said Thursday afternoon at a high-dollar fundraiser at the Portland Yacht Club, co-hosted by The New Republic’s owner and editor Win McCormack and his political consultant wife, Carol Butler. 

‘I mean it’s ugly… Christ, they’re going after Mickey Mouse,’ Biden said.

He made similar pro-Disney remarks at his second fundraiser in Seattle, Washington, headlining an affair at the lakefront home of Mary Snapp and Spencer Frazer hosted by Microsoft’s President and Vice Chair Brad Smith and his wife Kathy Surace-Smith.

‘There’s nothing conservative about throwing Disney out of its current posture… over saying gay?’ the president mused to the Seattle crowd.