TALLAHASSEE — New York City’s Democratic mayor, Eric Adams, is borrowing a tactic used by his political foe, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis: using a political issue to convince residents to move to his city.
Adams announced Monday that he has partnered with private companies to launch a billboard campaign to denounce Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education” bill, which critics have dubbed the “don’t say gay” legislation.
The bill prohibits instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade, and potentially restricts lessons on those themes for older kids.
“This political showmanship of attempting to demonize a particular group or community is unacceptable, and we are going to loudly show our support and say to those living in Florida, ‘Listen, we want you here in New York,’ " Adams said at a City Hall press conference Monday.
DeSantis employed a similar tactic as he promoted hiring bonuses for law enforcement officers, who he urged to leave cities, like New York City, because he said Democratic leadership there did not support police officers.
“We’re proud in Florida of being a state where people who are in uniform know they’re appreciated,” DeSantis said at a press conference last September. “They know they have the support, certainly of the governor and the attorney general, but also our Legislature and the people throughout the state of Florida.”
Adams said his digital ad campaign is meant to be a welcoming message to Florida’s LGBTQ community. The ads will target residents in Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach for eight weeks, from April 4 through May 29.
“We want you right here in New York City, and it is more than just saying that it is also standing up and aligning ourselves with the men and women of the LGBTQ+ community,” Adams said.
DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw, scoffed when asked about Adams’ efforts to recruit Florida residents.
“Thousands of New Yorkers have moved to Florida since the pandemic began, and I doubt many will leave Florida because they’re so upset about the lack of classroom instruction on gender theory and sexuality for children in grades K-3,” Pushaw said in a statement Monday afternoon.
Florida’s legislation does not deal with classroom instruction on sexuality. Attempts to soften the bill to specifically address lessons on sexuality were voted down by the Republican majority in the Legislature.
The bill, however, prohibits instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grades — or in older grades in a way that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
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The bill requires the state to update those standards by June 30, 2023. While it is unclear how exactly the bill will shape Florida schools, opponents contend it will result in a chilling effect that will lead some teachers to avoid any discussion on gender identity or sexual orientation.
The governor is in full support of the measure and has said it will “protect children” and “support parents.” If people don’t like it, Pushaw suggested, they should leave the state.
“Mayor Adams is doing Florida a favor. If anyone is so upset about our governor defending parental rights that they want to leave Florida for a crime-ridden socialist dystopia, our state will be better off without them,” she said.
“In fact, the mayor should pay for their flights to NYC!”