Judy Blume guts Ron DeSantis over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill
Author Judy Blume has blasted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for attempts to censor education in the state and has described the current political climate as “the 1980s on steroids.”
The acclaimed US writer launched a scathing attack on DeSantis during a speech at Variety’s Power of Women luncheon Tuesday (April 4) that included guests pose Actors Michaela Jaé Rodriguez and Orange is the new blackis Natasha Lyonne.
“Teachers are under fire, librarians are under threat,” Blume said, citing legislative attempts to limit discussion of sexuality and the banning of books in certain school districts. “They criminalize teachers and librarians. They’re not just threatening their jobs, they’re threatening them.
“They could go to jail just for standing 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 law last year — as “a governor who wants to control everything from what kids can think, what they can know, what they can question, what they can can learn, and now even what to talk about.”
Regarding a recently proposed Florida bill — House Bill 1069 — by Republican Stan McClain that would restrict discussion of sexual health and menstruation for students under the sixth grade, Blume commented, “We have a legislature trying to pass a law getting through, preventing girls from going to school, preventing elementary school from talking about periods… good luck with that.”
Blume, 85, is best known for works like the 1970s children’s novel are you there god it’s me margaretwhich was heavily censored in the years following its publication for its candid discussion of menstruation, religious independence, and early sexual impulses, all from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl.
The Key West resident Blume used Tuesday’s speech 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 rush in [their] Children’s schools waved a book that said, ‘I demand that you get rid of this,'” she recalled. “When I was first attacked, I felt alone. I was afraid. I mean, that was America, right? I thought we were a country that celebrates our freedom of thought.”
She continued, “The reality is we’re exactly where we’ve been [then] unless it’s the 1980’s on steroids.
“This time it’s not the moral majority or just the religious right — this time it’s coming from our government: legislators drunk on 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 attack.”
Blume’s stirring speech came just days after she denounced bans on LGBTQ+ books being put in place by some Florida school districts.
“What are you protecting your kids from?” the acclaimed author told Variety. “Protecting your children means educating and equipping them with knowledge and reading and supporting what they choose to read.
“No child becomes transgender, gay or lesbian because they read a book. That will not happen. You may say, “Oh, that’s just like me. That’s what I feel and what I think about. Or: “I’m interested in it because I have friends who might be gay, bi or lesbian”. They want to know’.”
Rising anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment has led to a record number of individual book bans across the US, with one report indicating 2,532 books were banned in the 2021-2022 school year.
More than half of blocked people contain 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 2021 record.
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