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Tipsheet

Democratic New York Rep. Calls Florida Parental Rights Bill 'Reasonable' and 'Common Sense'

AP Photo/John Minchillo, File

Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi (N.Y.) said Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill is "reasonable" in stark contrast to statements from many lawmakers within his party who have criticized the legislation in recent weeks.

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During a Thursday radio interview with WABC, Suozzi explained that he believes "it's a very reasonable law not to try to get kids in kindergarten to be talking about sex."

"I wish it wouldn't become such a hot button issue where people are just attacking each other—it's just common sense," he said. "I'm very much in favor of equal rights, I'm very much in favor of treating gay people fairly and treating them like the human beings they are."

The Florida bill, which was signed into law late last month by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), prohibits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades kindergarten through third grade and limits age-inappropriate discussions of sexuality in other grades.

Dubbed by critics as the "Don't say gay" bill despite there being no mention of a ban on the word, H.B. 1557 also allows parents to access their children's education and health records and requires schools to notify parents of changes to their child's mental, physical or emotional well-being. The bill exempts schools from disclosing information to their parents if a "reasonably prudent person" would be concerned that doing so could result in abuse, abandonment or neglect.

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Legislation mirroring Florida's parental rights law has since been introduced in other states, including Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Ohio.

Suozzi, who is running for New York governor, sent a statement to WABC affirming his support for the Florida legislation, calling it "reasonable" and "common sense."

"Let me be clear, as I said on the radio, I fully support LGBTQ and equal rights," he said. "I absolutely do not support the Florida governor in most policies he supports. But I think it is reasonable that kids in kindergarten and first grade are not taught about their sexual orientation in school…Maybe this isn't a politically correct position but it certainly seems like common sense to me."

This, as other Democrats in New York, Florida and around the country have slammed the legislation.

Back in February, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) posted a tweet calling the bill "hateful, discriminatory, and dangerous."

And in early March, Florida Senate Democrats protested the bill by repeatedly shouting "Gay!" while walking through the state's capitol building.

The entertainment industry has also railed against Florida Republicans for the parental rights bill.

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Academy Awards co-hosts Wanda Syke, Amy Schumer and Regina Hall all began chanting "gay" over and over during the opening monologue of the awards show last month.

And Disney released a statement on March 28 condemning the Florida legislation.

The company said in its statement that the bill "should never have passed and should never have been signed into law" and that Disney's goal "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." 

"We are dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of LGBTQ+ members of the Disney family, as well as the LGBTQ+ community in Florida and across the country," Disney's statement read.

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