New York State

Suozzi calls Florida’s 'Don’t Say Gay' law 'reasonable'

Asked on a conservative radio talk show about the controversial law, Rep. Tom Suozzi leaned into right-wing talking points about not wanting teachers discussing sexual orientation and gender identity.

Rep. Tom Suozzi said he thought Florida’s controversial “Don’t say gay” law was “reasonable."

Rep. Tom Suozzi said he thought Florida’s controversial “Don’t say gay” law was “reasonable." Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Rep. Tom Suozzi, who is running against Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic primary for governor, called a controversial new Florida law aimed at discouraging discussions about sexuality and gender in classrooms “reasonable.” Dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by its opponents, Democrats and LGBTQ activists have rallied against the bill as a discriminatory attempt to prevent any LGBTQ topics from getting discussed. 

Suozzi was asked about the law while a guest on WABC’s Bernie & Sid in the Morning on Thursday. “I want to ask you about this Florida law, the Parental Rights Act, which prohibits teachers from talking sex, genitals, stuff like that, with kids kindergarten to third grade,” Sid Rosenberg said to Suozzi. He referenced the bill’s formal name, the Parental Rights in Education act, as well as right-wing talking points about the intent of the law being to protect children from age inappropriate sexual discussion in the classroom. Suozzi responded by echoing the same talking points.

“I think it’s a very reasonable law not to try to get kids in kindergarten to be talking about sex,” he said on the show. “I wish it wouldn’t become such a hot button issue where people are just attacking each other – it's just common sense.”

Suozzi followed up his reply with an assurance that he is not anti-gay. “I’m very much in favor of equal rights, I’m very much in favor of treating gay people fairly and treating them like the human beings they are,” he added without directly addressing the controversy surrounding the Florida law. When Rosenberg began bemoaning policy “based on 3% or in some cases 1% of the population” – an apparent reference to LGBTQ-centric legislation – Suozzi quickly took the conversation in a different direction to criticize Hochul’s Buffalo Bills stadium deal.

As written, the law does not explicitly prohibit discussion of genitals nor being gay. “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” reads the section in contention. Republicans have said the law is overall fairly innocuous and simply serves as a means to prevent “groomers” from indoctrinating kids. The term has become a common dog whistle among the right when discussing LGBTQ issues, connecting them with pedophilia. On the left, most view the legislation as a thinly veiled attempt to censor any LGBTQ discussions in a classroom setting.

The comments from Suozzi come not long after other prominent Democratic leaders in New York have taken strong public stances against the Florida law. New York City Mayor Eric Adams last week unveiled an ad campaign in support of gay New Yorkers and in opposition to the statute. Billboards reading “Loud. Proud. Still Allowed,” and “People say a lot of ridiculous things in New York. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ isn’t one of them,” will go up around the state.

Hochul has also taken a public stance against the Florida law. “The ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill that far-right Republicans in Flordia are pushing through is hateful, discriminatory, and dangerous,” the governor said in a February tweet. When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the legislation in March, Hochul called it a “cruel and shameful political stunt,” in another tweet. Her campaign referred to these public statements when asked for comment. A spokesman for gubernatorial campaign of New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams – who himself has invited criticism for past comments on gay marriage – when asked for comment provided a statement saying “It's dangerous for any leader not to see Florida's Don't Say Gay law for what it is: a direct, hateful attack on the LGBTQ+ community.”

In a statement to City & State, Suozzi did not walk back what he said on the radio. “Let me be clear, as I said on the radio, I fully support LGBTQ and equal rights,” Suozzi said. “I absolutely do not support the Florida governor in most policies he supports. But I think it is reasonable that kids in kindergarten and first grade are not taught about their sexual orientation in school… Maybe this isn’t a politically correct position but it certainly seems like common sense to me.” The statement once again did not address the concern by many other members of his party that the law will lead to discrimination against queer students in school, but added that “it’s the far left and the crazy right who are making this a divisive issue.”

Suozzi’s stance on the “Don’t Say Gay” law shocked gay Democratic lawmakers in New York. “I think his comments are bone chilling,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman, who has heralded into law a number of prominent LGBTQ rights bills, told City & State. “I think every LGBTQ New Yorker should be put on notice that Tom Suozzi is no friend to our community.” State Sen. Jabari Brisport expressed similar outrage. 

“One in three trans youth have considered suicide and a queer nightclub in Brooklyn was recently set on fire,” Brisport said in a text. “Tom Suozzi should be finding ways to support the LGBTQ+ community, not validating Ron Desantis’ bigoted moves.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.