Ron DeSantis compares elementary school teachers to Hamas terrorists

Lynchburg, Virginia USA - April 14, 2023 - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at Liberty University on April 14, 2023.
Ron DeSantis Photo: Shutterstock

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently sent a message to his followers comparing LGBTQ+-inclusive elementary school teachers to Hamas fighters who have gunned down and kidnapped Israeli civilians.

“I have seen the Left’s indoctrination dangerously worsen in the last couple of decades — from student organizations praising Hamas at Ivy Leagues to elementary school teachers pushing radical gender ideology down the throats of first graders,” DeSantis’ message said, according to Florida Politics.

On October 7, Hamas members gunned down Jewish settlers, worshippers, and attendees of an electronic music festival; launched rocket attacks; and took women and children hostage. Their attacks have ignited a long-simmering military conflict with Israel as the neighboring countries battle over control of the region.

DeSantis has claimed that some pro-Palestinian U.S. student groups, like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), are “pro-Hamas” and want a “second Holocaust.” While Hamas is an Islamist militant movement and one of the Palestinian territories’ two major political parties, supporters of Palestine don’t automatically support Hamas or its actions. Nevertheless, DeSantis has ordered his state’s universities to disband SJP groups, threatening to persecute and cut government funding to them otherwise.

DeSantis is equating support for Hamas with elementary school teachers who support LGBTQ+-inclusive student policies (or “radical gender ideology,” as DeSantis calls it), such as allowing trans students to use names, pronouns, and bathrooms matching their gender identities.

DeSantis has used education policy as a way to push his anti-LGBTQ+ views, including the passage of his infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law and numerous other anti-LGBTQ+ laws. DeSantis has repeatedly lied while publicly defending these laws.

Palestine Legal, a group that provides legal support for pro-Palestinian groups, says that DeSantis’ ban on SJP groups is part of his larger effort to restrict freedom of speech on campuses.

“Florida, particularly under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis, has been actively undermining education, freedom of speech, and social justice movements, including by banning anti-racist courses and trying to criminalize protests. It is not surprising that this egregious move to silence the student movement for Palestinian rights is being pursued under DeSantis,” it said Wednesday in a statement, according to WJTV. “If it goes unchallenged, no one’s political beliefs will be safe from government suppression.” 

In 2022, DeSantis signed the so-called “Stop WOKE Act” and other laws that prevent institutions from holding diversity training on the oppressions faced by LGBTQ+ people, people of color, and other marginalized groups. His Stop WOKE Act has so far been blocked in court for its likely violation of free-speech protections. But even so, his laws are increasingly causing educators to flee the state while DeSantis rallies support for using taxpayer money to fund Christian schools and homeschooling.

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