Florida Republicans pass bills protecting speech on pronouns, eliminating diversity programs

Republicans in the Florida Legislature handed Gov. Ron DeSantis a pair of wins Wednesday when they approved bills to prevent students and teachers from being required to use pronouns that don’t correspond to a person’s sex. A second bill banned diversity programs in colleges. Republican super majorities in the House and Senate cleared both pieces of legislation, sending them to DeSantis, who is expected to sign them into law. The bills further build on DeSantis’ conservative agenda ahead of a potential White House bid, which is expected as early as next week. A potential bid to become the 2024 Republican presidential nominee would come after the state’s Legislative session ends in the coming days. FLORIDA PASSES BILL ALLOWING DESANTIS TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT WITHOUT RESIGNING Previous proposals — some of which have been met with praise from ardent supporters while distancing some independents — have also concerned sexual orientation, gender identity, race and education. On Wednesday, the Senate cleared a bill that prevents school staffers or students from being required to use certain pronouns. Other states have considered criminal or civic penalties for people who fail to use a person’s preferred pronouns. The bill also bans schools from teaching gender identity and sexual orientation up to the 8th grade. DeSantis has called for such teachings to be prohibited in all grades. RON DESANTIS TO LAUNCH 2024 PRESIDENTIAL EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE NEXT MONTH: REPORT It also allows challenges against school books that critics argue are inappropriate for children. The idea, according to supporters, is to protect children from sexualized content. A separate legislative proposal that Republicans passed in the House bans colleges from using state or federal funds for developing or promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. Republicans have argued such DEI programs are racially divisive. WHITE HOUSE DISMISSES POLLS SHOWING CONCERN FOR BIDEN’S AGE, DEMOCRATS NOT WANTING HIM TO RUN AGAIN Finally, the House approved a bill banning people from entering bathrooms that do not correspond to their birth sex. The legislation comes amid a push for transgender people to use the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, which has sparked a country-wide debate. Democratic lawmakers are unable to stop any Republican-supported legislation in either legislative chamber. DeSantis is expected to formally announce his presidential candidacy in the coming weeks, joining former President Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and others. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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