PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – “In Oregon, we say gay.”
That was the message shared by Gov. Kate Brown Monday in response to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signing a bill into law that bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
Critics have called the legislation the “Don’t Say Gay” law. That’s why Brown is saying the opposite.
“Oregonians are welcoming of our LGBTQIA community members. We want to make sure Oregon is a safe, inclusive and welcoming place for all,” Brown said in a statement she posted to social media.
She said she’s horrified and outraged by the legislation that was signed in Florida and says it’s making schools a “less-safe space for LGBTQIA+ kids.”
Brown said she wants to make sure Oregon stays a safe and welcoming space, no matter one’s sexual orientation or identity.
In 2016, Brown was the first openly LGBTQ candidate to be elected governor of a U.S. state. Brown is bisexual.
Florida’s law prohibits classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade. It would allow parents to sue districts if the law is violated.
Critics have been outspoken about the bill. They say banning lessons about gender identity and sexual orientation marginalizes LGBTQ+ people and their presence in society. They argue the language of the bill, including terms like “classroom instruction,” “age appropriate” and “developmentally appropriate,” makes it too broad.
They fear teachers might avoid discussing these topics at all grade levels for fear of being sued.
LGBTQ groups and Democrats have suggested they might take legal action against the bill, but nothing has been done yet.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.