Gov’s Press Secretary: ‘It was my personal account and I was tweeting off work hours’

HB 1557 has drawn nationwide attention and protests across the state, and is one of the main ‘culture war’ bills considered this session

By: - March 7, 2022 2:43 pm

From the 5th floor of the Capitol building, you can see protesters below. They are waiting to discuss HB 1557 in the Senate. The bill has been called, “Don’t Say Gay.” March 7, 2022. Credit: Danielle J. Brown

The Florida Phoenix reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Press Secretary, Christina Pushaw, about calls from Florida lawmakers for her firing or resignation regarding tweets she made over the weekend on controversial legislation restricting classroom instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity.

She provided her response in an email to the Phoenix Monday afternoon: Pushaw said:

“It’s inappropriate for adults to instruct children in VPK-3rd grade (ages 3-9) about sexuality. There is no good reason a teacher needs to talk to a 7 year old about sex, any questions a child has at that age should be addressed by their parent or guardian. Talking about adult topics with young children is a tactic of groomers, and as I said, not everyone who opposes the bill is a groomer — but they apparently don’t see a problem with adults instructing very young children about sexual topics. And sadly, that creates an environment where grooming can happen.”

“The governor has never referred to the bill as an anti-grooming bill or used that term. It was my personal account and I was tweeting off work hours. The governor in his statements about this legislation, has emphasized the importance of parental rights and making sure all instruction in our schools is developmentally appropriate. For ages 3-9, classroom instruction on sexual topics is not developmentally appropriate, and it’s difficult to understand why anyone would disagree.”

“I don’t regret raising concerns about child safeguarding. The only people who singled out the LGBT community are the opponents of the bill, who have been baselessly accusing us of homophobia — when the bill itself doesn’t single out the LGBT community or even mention the word “gay.” Any type of sexual content, whether it’s straight, LGBT or anything else, is inappropriate for 3-9 year old children — and I can’t believe that is controversial to rational adults.”

Following those comments, the Phoenix provided information about the bill in question, HB 1557 says: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Opponents to the bill have referred to it as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

HB 1557 has drawn nationwide attention and protests across the state, and is considered one of the main “culture war” bills to be considered in the 2022 legislative session in Florida. Crowds have continued to be in the Capitol building Monday, awaiting the HB 1557 discussion in the Senate.

The Phoenix has covered this exchange and the bill in question. You can read our two previous stories published Monday here and here.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University, majoring in English with a focus in editing, writing, and media. While at FSU, she served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine, Nomadic Noles. Last fall, she fulfilled another editorial internship with Rowland Publishing, where she wrote for the Tallahassee Magazine, Emerald Coast Magazine, and 850 Business Magazine. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat. She spends her downtime traveling to all corners of Florida and beyond to practice lindy hop.

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