Equality Florida wants Rep. Baxley to apologize for statement regarding gay parents

Published Oct. 11, 2013

Equality Florida's CEO wants Rep. Dennis Baxley to apologize for comments he made at a meeting of the House K-12 subcommittee meeting Oct. 8th that were construed as disparaging gay parents. The Ocala Republican said he was describing a conversation he had with a teacher about challenges in the classroom.

Baxley's comment was: "It's easy to say parents need to get involved, but half these kids are raising themselves. They don't have any parents that are functional. How can we address that? I know its scope and I know it's hard, but you're probably their only hope. I mean I sat an hour-and- a- half with a teacher telling me, well this child has got serial men coming through the house, this one has two mommies, this one has an abusive father who's home, this one has alcoholism, this one has drug abuse. It was a casualty warfare event to hear - just her classroom. How many dysfunctional, atypical - to me - uh, structures are in the way of a kid having a chance to learn."

Equality Florida's Nadine Smith issued a statement Friday criticizing Baxley for comparing two mommies or same sex parents to abusive or alcoholic parents.

"We hope Representative Baxley has the decency to apologize for his comments disparaging gay parents and our children. More than that, we invite Representative Baxley to educate himself, talk with us and actually meet our families. We are a diverse state and no elected official can fulfill their oath of office if they only respect and care about the people and families that look just like their own," Smith said in an email.

"The entire child welfare community, every credible agency and all research, is unanimous in recognizing that gay parents are equally capable of of raising children and that our kids do just as well as their classmates," she said.

Asked about comparing problems with two moms to problems with abusive and alcoholic parents,Baxley said he was referring to a conversation he had with a teacher who was discussing the "challenges" for young people today.

"They're coming from a lot of different home situations and that has to be factored in" with what happens in a classroom, he said.

He said Equality Florida was "extrapolating" a negative message from his comments. Baxley said he didn't recall using the example of the two mommies. "I don't remember exactly what I said right now."

Smith said the group had requested a meeting with Baxley, and he said he'd be "happy to meet with them."

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