Ron DeSantis Berates Reporter Over Question About Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis berated a reporter who asked him about the controversial sex education bill currently being debated in the state.

At a press conference at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, WFLA reporter Evan Donovan asked DeSantis about the Parental Rights in Education legislation, which critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

The bill aims to ban the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in certain grades at Florida schools. The Republican-controlled Florida Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a version that was approved by the state's House of Representatives.

The bill has been met with widespread condemnation from LGBT groups, Democrats including President Joe Biden, and has sparked mass protests in schools across Florida.

On Monday, DeSantis interrupted a question from Donovan while he was asking him about the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill.

"Does it say that in the bill? Does it say that in the bill? I'm asking you to tell me what's in the bill, because you are pushing false narratives," DeSantis said. "It doesn't matter what critics say."

When Donovan explained that the bill aims to prohibit instruction of gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom, DeSantis replied that it only applied to "pre-K through three [third grade], so 5-year-olds, 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds."

"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 disabuse you of those narratives," DeSantis said, attracting some applause from others at the press conference.

"We're going to make sure that parents can send their kid to Kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into the school curriculum."

This is the second time in a less than a week that DeSantis has shot back at a reporter who referred to HB 1557 as the "Don't Say Gay" bill. On Friday, the governor rejected the critical description when asked about it in Jacksonville.

"You call it that. I haven't seen that in any of these bills. Where is this coming from?" DeSantis said, via the Florida Politics website.

"Does the truth matter or not? Is that in any of these bills? Yes or no?

"You actually look at the bill, and it says no sexual instruction in grades pre-K through 3. How many parents want their kindergarteners to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction?"

The comments arrived as DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw was widely condemned after likening those who oppose the Parental Rights in Education legislation to pedophiles.

"The bill that liberals inaccurately call 'Don't Say Gay' would be more accurately described as an Anti-Grooming Bill," Pushaw tweeted on Friday.

"If you're against the Anti-Grooming bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don't denounce the grooming of 4-8-year-old children."

In response, Carlos G. Smith, a Democratic Florida state representative who is gay, called on Pushaw to resign.

"DeSantis' spokesperson openly accused opponents of Don't Say Gay of being 'groomers'— aka PEDOPHILES," Smith tweeted.

"Bigoted attacks like this against LGBTQ people are the worst of the worst. They're disgusting and dangerous and have NO PLACE in the Gov's office."

In a statement, advocacy group Equality Florida called Pushaw's tweets a "bigoted anti-LGBTQ rant."

"Governor DeSantis' spokesperson said the quiet part out loud: that this bill is grounded in a belief that LGBTQ people, simply by existing, are a threat to children and must be erased," the statement added.

"This same bigoted insinuation has long been used to stigmatize our families, justify denying us the ability to adopt children, and is being used to justify the tracking of transgender children by government agents in Texas and threats to imprison their parents.

"Make no mistake—this is a tacit announcement from the Governor that he supports the true intent of the Don't Say Gay bill: the erasure of LGBTQ people."

DeSantis' office has been contacted for comment.

Ron DeSantis don't say gay
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at the Miami Dade College’s North Campus on January 26, 2022 in Miami, Florida. DeSantis berated a reporter who asked him about the state's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts