Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., was roasted for attempting to persuade the Walt Disney Company to leave Florida for California in response to Gov. Ron DeSantis', R-Fla., new education legislation, which critics have dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill.
Florida's new Parental Rights in Education bill prohibits "classroom instruction" about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools for children in kindergarten through third grade. Liberal critics have labeled it the "Don't Say Gay" bill, implying that conversations about being gay will be banned in schools. The bill passed the Florida state Senate last week and now heads to DeSantis' desk for his signature. When signed into law, the law will go into effect on July 1.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the bill as anti-LGBT which caused DeSantis to respond by calling the company "woke."
"In Florida, our policies got to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musing of woke corporations," the governor said last Thursday.
Newsom hopped into the debate to tell Disney to relocate to the Golden State. Disney announced in July that it would move 2,000 employees from California to Florida in part due to "Florida's business-friendly climate," Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D'Amaro said at the time. D'Amaro credited Florida's lack of state income tax as part of the reason for relocation.
"Disney, the door is open to bring those jobs back to California - the state that actually represents the values of your workers," Newsom tweeted Saturday.
Newsom's critics took the opportunity to mock him for the suggestion and argue the state's liberal policies drove some Disney employees away, and would be unwelcoming to the company at large. California is the state with the highest level of poverty in the U.S., according to a September 2021 report from the US Census Bureau.
"You run the state with the highest level of poverty in the country. Your values suck," Erielle Davidson, associate director for the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason Law School, tweeted.
Several others, including DeSantis' press secretary Christina Pushaw, reminded Newsom that he ordered large parts of the state, including Disneyland, to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.
DeSantis pushed back on the "Don't Say Gay" narrative at recent press conferences. When local reporter WFLA's Evan Donovan confronted the governor about the bill by using the critical phrase, DeSantis responded by asking where the words "Don't Say Gay" were in the bill and accused the reporter of "peddling false narratives."
The bill's sponsor, Republican Florida State Rep. Joe Harding, said the legislation was intended not to discriminate, but to give parents more insight into their children's classrooms.
"One, it defines that there are certain instructions related to gender and sexual orientation that are just not appropriate at certain ages, and we define that as kindergarten through third grade," Harding, told Fox News. "A school having curriculum that teaches gender and sexual orientation and what that means and getting into the weeds on that is just not age appropriate."
Harding added that the bill creates a "course of action" for parents who disagree with the lessons local school boards are allowing.
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