- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2023

The White House is hitting back at comments by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying his war on wokeness is just a dog whistle for “despicable” anti-transgender bigotry.

As he prepares for his expected run for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, Mr. DeSantis has made battling a progressive educational agenda a rallying cry for his expected campaign. At several public events, Mr. DeSantis has described his state as “where woke goes to die.”

Asked about his comments, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre cited a spate of educational laws Mr. DeSantis has backed.

“This is about attacking young kids and their parents because of how they view themselves, because of how they see themselves, because of how they want to live,” she said. “What does that have to do with anything about being woke? That is just hate and it is shameful, and we are going to call it out.”

“That is not actually policy,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said of GOP lawmakers tackling what they perceive as rampant woke policies. “What that turns into is hate. What it turns into is despicable policy and it’s just not the way we are going to move forward.”

Mr. DeSantis has supported a spate of new laws in Florida that would reshape K-12 and higher education in the state, including requiring teachers to use pronouns matching children’s sex assigned at birth. Transgender activists claim the bills target their community and are discriminatory.

He also banned instruction on sexual gender and identity and made it easier for parents to remove books related to the topics in public schools.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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