Representative Tom Suez, who is running against Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic primary for governor, called a controversial new law in Florida designed to deter discussions about sexuality and gender in “reasonable” classes. Called by its opponents the “Don’t Say Gay” law, Democrats and LGBT activists rallied against the bill as a discriminatory attempt to prevent discussion of any LGBT issues.
Suozzi was asked about the law while a Bernie & Sid guest on WABC on Thursday. “I want to ask you about this law in Florida, the Parental Rights Act, which prohibits teachers from talking about sex, genitals, things like that, with children in kindergarten up to third grade,” Sid Rosenberg told Soatzi. He referred to the formal name of the bill, the Parental Rights Act in education, and the right-wing points of view on the intent of the law to protect children from sexually inappropriate discussion in class. Suozzi responded by reverberating to the same talking points.
“I think it’s a very sensible law not to try to get kids in kindergarten to talk about sex,” he said on the show. “I wish it would not become such a hot button problem where people just attack each other – it just makes sense.”
Suozzi followed his response with the promise that he was not anti-gay. “I’m very much in favor of equal rights, I’m very much in favor of treating homosexuals fairly and treating them as human beings they are,” he added without referring directly to the controversy surrounding Florida law. When Rosenberg began whining about a “3% or in some cases 1% of the population” policy – an alleged reference to LGBTQ-focused legislation – Suozzi quickly took the call in another direction to criticize the Wachoul Buffalo Bills Stadium deal.
As written, the law does not explicitly forbid discussing genitals or being gay. “Classroom instruction by school staff or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity shall not exist in kindergarten up to third grade or in an age-appropriate or developmental manner for students in accordance with state standards,” the dispute section reads. Republicans said the law overall is quite innocent and simply serves as a means of preventing “ushers” from putting children into indoctrination. The term has become a common dog whistle among the right when discussing LGBTQ issues, linking them with pedophilia. On the left, most of them see legislation as a subtle attempt to censor all LGBT discussions in the classroom.
Suozzi’s comments come not long after other prominent Democratic leaders in New York have taken firm public positions against Florida law. New York City Mayor Eric Adams last week unveiled a campaign to support gay men in New York and oppose the law. Billboards with the caption “Noisy. Proud. Still allowed,” and “People say a lot of ridiculous things in New York. ‘Do not say gay’ is not one of them,” will go up across the state.
Hochul also took a public stand against Florida law. “The ‘Do not say gay’ bill that the right-wing Republicans in Florida are pushing is hateful, discriminatory and dangerous,” the governor said. Said in a tweet in February. When Florida Gov. Ron de Santis signed the legislation in March, Hochul called it “.A cruel and shameful political prank“In another tweet. Her campaign addressed these public statements when asked to comment. New York Attorney General Jumen Williams’ spokesman – who himself invited criticism of past comments on gay marriage – when asked to comment provided a statement saying” it’s dangerous for any leader not to See Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Law Why It’s: A Direct and Hateful Attack on the LGBTQ + Community.
In a statement to City & State, Suozzi did not repeat what he said on the radio. “Let me be clear, as I said on the radio, I fully support LGBTQ and equal rights,” Swazi said. “I totally do not support the governor of Florida in most of the policies he supports. But I think it makes sense that children in kindergarten and first grade would not learn about their sexual orientation at school … maybe that is not a politically correct position but it certainly seems like common sense to me.” The statement again did not address the fears of many of his party members that the law would lead to discrimination of queer students in the school, but added that “it is the extreme left and the crazy right that are making the issue divisive.”
Swazi’s stance on the “Do not say gay” law has shocked Democratic gay lawmakers in New York. “I think his comments are bone-chilling,” State Sen. Brad Wilman, who announced a number of notable LGBT rights bills to City & State in the law, “I think every LGBTQ New Yorker should be aware that Tom Swazi is not a member of our community.” State Sen. Jabri Brisport expressed similar outrage.
“One in three young trans people has considered suicide and a queer nightclub in Brooklyn has recently been set on fire,” Brisport said in the text. “Tom Suezi needs to find ways to support the LGBTQ + community, rather than validate Ron Desentis’ fanatical moves.”