TEXAS — Republican Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in a Monday email to supporters said he intends to make a version of the Florida law critics call “Don’t Say Gay” a priority during the next legislative session.
The pledge came in a campaign email Monday in which Patrick railed against Disney for its opposition to Florida’s newly enacted law. The email subject line is “I AM DONE WITH DISNEY!”
“At first, I was angry at their over-the-top radical resistance to a Florida law that simply says schools cannot sexualize children in elementary school. I will make this law a top priority in the next session,” Patrick wrote. “This issue will be addressed in our interim Education Committee hearings under Parental Rights.”
The email came after Patrick laid out his priorities for the next session via a list of 84 interim legislative charges for lawmakers to study. Included in those are culture issues including investigation of books available in school libraries and tenure for college professors.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in late March signed the bill into law. It forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, a policy that has drawn intense national scrutiny from critics who argue it marginalizes LGBTQ people.
DeSantis and other Republicans have repeatedly said the measure is reasonable and that parents, not teachers, should be broaching subjects of sexual orientation and gender identity with their children.
The law states: “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 in accordance with state standards.” Parents would be able to sue districts over violations.
The Walt Disney Company, a powerful player in Florida politics, suspended its political donations in the state, and LGBTQ advocates who work for the company criticized CEO Bob Chapek for what they said was his slow response speaking out against the bill. Some walked off the job in protest.
After DeSantis signed the measure, Disney released a statement saying, “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
Patrick criticized what he called Disney’s “woke agenda” and urged his supporters to boycott the company.
“Until they change their corporate philosophy, stop spending money with them. Cut off the Disney Channel. Cancel your park trip or your cruise if one is planned. If you own Disney stock, sell it,” he wrote. “Although I did not own many shares of individual Disney stock, I sold them today. Write a letter to their company or call them with your polite, but clear disappointment and tell them they must change or you are through with them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.