Judy Blume blasts Ron DeSantis for ‘threatening’ teachers with’Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Author: Asyia Iftikhar
Author Judy Blume has slammed Florida governor Ron DeSantis over attempts to censor education in the state, describing the current political climate to “the 1980s on steroids”.
The celebrated US writer launched a scathing attack on DeSantis during a speech at Variety’s Power of Women lunch on Tuesday (4 April), where guests including Pose actor Michaela Jaé Rodriguez and Orange is the New Black‘s Natasha Lyonne.
“Teachers are under fire, librarians are threatened,” said Blume, referring to legislative attempts to limit discussion of sexuality and the banning of books in certain school districts. “They are criminalising teachers and librarians. It’s not just that they’re threatening their jobs, they’re threatening them.
“They could go to jail, all because they stand up for the rights of the students they teach. All because they refuse to give in to fear.”
Blume described DeSantis – who signed Florida’s notorious ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law last year – as “a governor who wants to control everything, starting with what kids can think, what they can know, what they can question, what they can learn, and now even what they can talk about.”
Referring to a recently proposed Florida law – House Bill 1069 – from Republican Stan McClain that would limit discussion of sexual health and menstruation for students below the sixth grade, Blume commented: “We have a legislator who’s trying to put through a bill preventing girls in elementary school from talking about periods… good luck there.”
Blume, 85, is best known for works like 1970’s children’s novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, which was heavily censored in the years following its publication for its frank discussion about menstruation, religious independence and early sexual impulses, all from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl.
Key West resident Blume used her speech on Tuesday to compare current events in her home state to the “censors [who] crawled out of the woodwork overnight” after Republican Ronald Reagan became US president in 1981.
“[There were] parents rushing into [their] children’s schools waving a book saying, ‘I demand that you get rid of this’,” she recalled. “When I first came under attack, I felt alone. I felt scared. I mean this was America, right? I thought we were a country who celebrated our intellectual freedom.”
She continued: “The reality is, we are right back where we were [then] except it’s the 1980s on steroids.
“This time it’s not the moral majority or only the religious right – this time it is coming from our government: lawmakers, drunk with power, with a need to control everything.
“Sure it’s still sexuality, but it’s gender, it’s LGBTQ+, it’s racism, it’s history itself that’s under fire.”
Blume’s rousing speech came just days after she denounced bans on LGBTQ+-themed books being implemented by some school districts in Florida.
“What are you protecting your children from?” the celebrated author told Variety. “Protecting your children means educating them and arming them with knowledge, and reading and supporting what they want to read.
“No child is going to become transgender or gay or lesbian because they read a book. It’s not going to happen. They may say, ‘Oh, this is just like me. This is what I’m feeling and thinking about’. Or, ‘I’m interested in this because I have friends who may be gay, bi, lesbian’. They want to know’.”
Rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment has led to a record number of individual book bans in the US, with one report indicating that 2,532 books were banned in the 2021/2022 school year.
More than half of those banned feature LGBTQ+ characters or discussions.
A separate report indicates that there were around 1,200 attempts to ban books in the US in 2022, more than double the record set in 2021.
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Actual Story on Pink News
Author: Asyia Iftikhar