Gov. Ron DeSantis calls out ‘bad actors’ on curriculum transparency, promises ‘consequences’ in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to debunk the narrative that so-called “book bans” are occurring in Florida, saying that parents have a right to object to graphic sexual material that is…

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to debunk the narrative that so-called “book bans” are occurring in Florida, saying that parents have a right to object to graphic sexual material that is not age appropriate.

The governor said Thursday that Florida’s students had a right to be “educated, not indoctrinated” and called the removal of sexually inappropriate books “curriculum transparency.”

DeSantis further warned opponents the state will take action against “bad actors who are intentionally depriving students of a rightful education by politicizing this process.”

The governor made the comments at a news conference held at the University of Central Florida.

Joining DeSantis was the Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr., Orange County School Board Member Alicia Farrant and Moms for Liberty co-founder Tina Descovich.

Under DeSantis, Florida has been at the forefront of a national effort to rid school libraries and classrooms of sexually inappropriate books, which critics have equated to book banning.

“Over the past year, parents have used their rights to object to pornographic and sexually explicit material they found in school libraries,” DeSantis said. “We also know that some people have abused this process in an effort to score cheap political points. Today, I am calling on the Legislature to make necessary adjustments so that we can prevent abuses in the objection process and ensure that districts aren’t overwhelmed by frivolous challenges.” 

DeSantis said the Florida Department of Education will work with the Legislature to “fine-tune” the process. 

Prior to the news conference, DeSantis showed a video featuring some of the books that contain explicit sexual content not suitable for children – books which have been removed from the state’s schools under the curriculum transparency laws.   

DeSantis had previously used the same video for a press conference carried live, which over-the-air broadcasters had to censor to comply with laws against broadcasting graphic sexual images on television – a point not lost on the governor. 

DeSantis and Diaz blasted opponents, especially professional educators, who have abused the transparency system to make it appear the state of Florida has instituted censorship of classic works, the dictionary and even the Bible.  

Diaz said the Hillsborough County School District tried to stop kids from reading Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to make it appear the state was censoring revered classics because the law was confusing. 

He also said that a Miami-Dade school sent out “permission slips” celebrating Black History month with a book written by an African American author in order to create a backlash against the DeSantis reforms. 

“African American history is required instruction,” said Diaz. “Black History Month is required instruction: There’s no permission slip required for required instruction.” 

Another teacher in Manatee County papered over all the books in her class, saying it was a new state requirement, said DeSantis. 

“This is fraudulent. But what it is, it’s trying to obscure the reason why parents” have asked for sexually-charged books to be taken out of school, he said. 

DeSantis also called such stunts “performative nonsense,” and vowed that educators who abuse the system to make a political point would be “held accountable.”   

“So the time for this is really over,” said DeSantis about such abuse. 

In fact, 42 counties in Florida have had no issues with any books since the state’s curriculum transparency law went into effect, the governor revealed.  

Moms for Liberty co-founder, Tina Descovich, told the press conference that she had a one-word retort to critics of curriculum transparency: “Enough.”  

“We’ve had enough of this in Florida” she said. “Even with these great two leaders [DeSantis and Diaz], we are at a 40% literacy rate … But what about the 60% of students in Florida that can’t read proficiently?” 

And Florida currently ranks third nationwide in 4th grade reading, according to DeSantis.   

However, nationwide, just 21% of Hispanic students can read at grade level and only 17% of black students are reading proficiently, said Descovich.  

Orange County School Board Member Alicia Farrant said that instead of teaching kids to read, “our country is actually a nation that is losing its morals and turning away from and turning its back on God, perverting the innocence of children, pushing sex perversion and inappropriate content younger and younger.”  

She said “the media and extreme left-wing groups” want people to believe Florida’s transparency curriculum act is banning classics, when in fact, it’s simply removing sexually explicit and graphic books. 

One Orange County mom told the press conference that her 9th grade daughter was forced to participate in an assignment that included reading a book with 24 scenes of an adult male performing sex acts on a 4th grade boy. 

“Had this book been acted out on video using the exact narrative used in the story, it would be rated mature or actually not produced at all because of its pornographic nature against a child,” she said.  

In fact, an adult performing sex acts on a child, even in a movie, is a crime.   

DeSantis said that ultimately the decisions on books come from the school system and not the state. But parents should have the right to protest inappropriate books, and the Curriculum Transparency Act ensures those rights. 

Meanwhile, people who go after “classic works” to make political points shouldn’t be incentivized, he said. 

“That’s an agenda and that’s not what we should have in the schools,” DeSantis emphasized.