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Tipsheet

Maher Says Young Kids Probably 'Shouldn't Be Thinking About Sex' in Response to Florida Education Bill

Janet Van Ham/HBO via AP

"Real Time" host Bill Maher spoke on Florida Republicans' Parental Rights in Education bill during the latest episode of his show, when he appeared to support GOP efforts to restrict conversations with young children about sex.

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The bill, referred to by critics as the "Don't Say, Gay" bill despite there being no mention in the legislation of a ban on saying the word "gay," would bar educators from initiating discussions on gender identity and sexuality with children in kindergarten through third grade and would limit age-inappropriate discussions of sexuality in other grades. 

The legislation would also allow parents to access their children's education and health records and require schools to notify parents of changes to their child's mental, physical or emotional well-being. The bill would exempt schools from disclosing information to parents if a "reasonably prudent person" would be concerned that doing so could result in abuse, abandonment or neglect.

Maher said during the "Overtime" segment of his show Friday that young children probably "shouldn't be thinking about sex at all."

"I guess it's a reaction to Republicans who feel that there's too much talk in lower grades -- I think it's only, they're talking about kindergarten to third grade – so we're talking about very young kids who, you know, as always with this stuff, you know, it's not like there's no kernel of truth in that maybe kids that young shouldn't be thinking about sex at all," Maher said.

"It's not like you're not allowed to literally not say gay, but they just don't want teachers talking about it," he continued. "They think it's the province of parents."

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The episode's panelists –  New York Times columnist Frank Bruni and Newsweek deputy opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon – had differing perspectives on the Florida legislation, with Bruni criticizing the bill as a "culture war that's meant to solve cheap, easy points rather than really solving America's problems" while Ungar-Sargon disagreed, saying instead that it focuses on parental rights. 

Bruni asked Ungar-Sargon, "Do we know that this was an enormous problem, pervasive in Florida schools? This reeks to me of something that happened on a few occasions and has been blown into something."

Maher then suggested he does not buy Bruni's assertion.

"Well, I don't know about that," Maher said in response to Bruni's question. "The same thing with the race -- with the CRT [critical race theory] thing. I feel like it's disingenuous when the liberals say, you know, 'We just want to teach history.' And like … most reasonable people are not against realistically teaching history. It's not like you can't mention slavery. They're telling you about something else that is going on."

"I've read too many reports, too many first-person reports from teachers who say, 'I can't go on teaching like this because this is insanity what I'm doing in this classroom, separating kids by race and oppressors and non-oppressors.' And they're little kids. It is going on," Maher continued.

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The comedian also read part of the bill, which "would require districts to adopt procedures for notifying a student's parent if there is a change in the student's services or monitoring related to the student's mental, emotional or physical health or well-being."  

Maher said, "I think in California, it's the school [that] has more of those rights than the parent. That's not how everybody feels out here. It's like we need to protect the student from the parents with the school."

Bruni responded sarcastically, "That's a political winner."

Maher told Bruni, "Well, you should live out here for a while. You'll see some crazy s--t. And yet, as I always say, the climate is a disaster and the weather is delightful."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is expected to sign the Parental Rights in Education bill into law after it passed the state House and state Senate.

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