DeSantis, my home is not your political playground


Rachel Choi

Illustration by Rachel Choi

By Sophia Pargas, Editor-in-Chief

In his inaugural address, Governor Ron DeSantis proclaimed Florida as “the land of sanity” and essentially crowned himself the king, minus the crown and scepter. As he continued, he vowed to “protect” and “defend” children—thus beginning his senseless, repressive, and illusive tirade on Florida’s education system.  

“We reject this woke ideology … We will never surrender to the woke mob,” he said in the speech. “Florida is where woke goes to die.”

But to DeSantis, “woke ideology” really just means “human rights.” 

In the months following this speech, he has released bills such as “Don’t Say Gay,” depriving teachers of the right to openly discuss issues involving gender and sexuality. He has targeted the LBGTQ+ community by working to ensure that the next generation will see their existence as a taboo, dirty, and untouchable subject. 

And now, as if that was not enough in his mission to establish his extremist conservative agenda and secure the Republican vote, he has chosen a new target of attack: periods. His newly proposed bill—HB1069—would not only limit Florida’s already nonexistent sex education curriculum, but would also hinder periods from being discussed in elementary schools. 

As a native Floridian and possibly a future mother hoping to raise children in the state, I am frankly disgusted by the ignorance and oppression being forced upon children by those elected to look out for them. Rather than genuinely making decisions based on the best interest of Floridian children, lawmakers are using them as pawns in a game of politics. While DeSantis’ supporters applaud his “traditional” views and commitment to snubbing out “liberal ideals,” they fail to see that they are exposing the most impressionable generation to not only hate, but also harm. 

It feels almost redundant to once more highlight the necessity of well-rounded and inclusive sex education in schools, but I will say it nonetheless: sex education is not a privilege, it is a right. For everyone. 

Though DeSantis and the Republican party believe teaching sex education through a cis, straight lens will eliminate the existence of LGBTQ+ communities, they are sorely mistaken. Instead, they are only subjecting them to more danger, shame, and hate. 

And this is exactly what the bill sets out to do. The majority of the proposed legislation is designed to completely eliminate transgender narratives from sex education, instead teaching that “sex is determined by reproductive function at birth and is binary and unchangeable.” It also requires schools to emphasize the “biological reproductive roles” of an encouraged “monogamous heterosexual relationship.” 

Once it is inevitably signed into law by DeSantis himself, sex education will be limited to grades 6-12, which is a fatal flaw within itself. On average, girls get their first period between 8 and 12 years of age, meaning that by the time they are actually taught about their own bodies, the information becomes essentially useless. Too little, too late. 

Even as someone who began puberty post-“the talk” and had my mother walk me through the experience, getting my first period was absolutely terrifying. Imagining young girls going through this life-changing event without proper education is disheartening and downright shameful. Even moreso, recognizing that the bill only further isolates children without stable homes or involved parents is beyond frustrating. 

And the punchline of the entire proposal? The new law only further perpetuates and reinforces abstinence-only sex education. Rather than informing young adults on how to have safe sex, Florida school teachers will instead keep proclaiming that “no” is the answer, leaving students exposed to STDs, STIs, and of course, pregnancy. In a state where abortion is extremely limited and impending a complete ban, this sentiment becomes even more laughably ironic. 

The dangers with HB1069 are seemingly endless. Amongst other things, the bill also limits the use of preferred pronouns in school, requires any sex education curriculum to be pre-approved by community stakeholders, and allows for any reading materials involving sex or gender to be banned entirely. 

Should the bill pass as a law—which it will—it will take a notorious seat next to “Don’t Say Gay” as what many outlets are now calling “Don’t Say Period” or “Don’t Say Sex.” And while I absolutely adore my home of Miami, it is extremely disappointing to constantly read headlines that my home state is the place where ignorance and intolerance roams so freely. 

In his quest to combat “woke” Florida, Governor DeSantis is spewing his own bigotry and hate upon the most vulnerable members of society: children. The bill itself is an alarming step back in educational rights, but marks only the beginning of a tireless mission to restrict human rights and push a political agenda regardless of who it negatively affects. 

Inevitably, Florida schools will cease to be the birthplace of pride, love, and individuality—and will instead become the place where progression goes to die.