Who is Javier Gomez? Biden praises teen, 18, who staged walkout against Florida 'Don't Say Gay' bill
President Joe Biden attacked 'ultra MAGA laws' on Wednesday, June 15, and signed an executive order for rolling back a wave of anti-LGBTQI+ legislation. He condemned hundreds of these 'ultra MAGA' laws that discriminate against gay and transgender people. Signing the executive order designed to roll back the impact of over 300 laws, the president described it as a battle for the soul of the nation.
"I don't have to tell you about the ultra-MAGA agenda, attacking families and our freedoms," Biden said at an event marking Pride Month at the White House. "Three hundred discriminatory bills introduced in states across this country..."
Biden added, "In Texas, knocking on front doors to harass and investigate parents who are raising transgender children. 'In Florida going after Mickey Mouse for God's sake." Conservatives in Florida turned on Disney for how it opposed a law that banned school teachers from holding discussions on sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms -- dubbed by opponents the 'Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The executive actions unveiled on June 15 demand that the Department of Health and Human Services work with states to expand gender-affirming care. It directs the department to expand access to youth mental health counseling and strengthen non-discrimination protections in the foster care system. The department is also supposed to clarify that federally funded programs cannot offer 'conversion therapy', a practice that seeks to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
"My order will use a full force the federal government to prevent inhumane practices of conversion therapy," Biden said. "This is the first time the federal government is using a coordinated response against this dangerous, discredited practice."
Biden appreciated key gay and transgender officials in his administration, including Admiral Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health and the first openly transgender four-star officer in the nation's uniformed services. He also gave a shout-out to Shawn Skelly, undersecretary of defense. "The first and second transgender Americans to be Senate confirmed in American history," Biden said. The president also praised Javier Garcia, a gay Florida student who walked out of his school in protest at Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill. Garcia, who shared the stage with Biden also described how he had been bullied.
Who is Javier Gomez?
Javier Gomez, 18, had led walkouts in protest of the 'Don't Say Gay' law in Florida. Speaking about getting bullied, Garcia said, "But I had an escape from this: My openly gay fifth grade teacher. He created a classroom that made me feel welcomed. I even remember noticing his rainbow socks."
“I fear students in Florida and across the country will not be able to get the same support because of hateful legislation,” he said. “My presence here is testament that we are fighting back … Because our lives are glorious, beautiful and worthy. We deserve respect and love. Until we have that we will continue to fight for liberation. … I’m fighting for the next little Javier so he doesn’t have to cry himself to sleep every night hoping he wakes up normal.”
The 'Don't Say Gay' law limits “classroom instruction” on “sexual orientation or gender identity”. It says such instruction “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”. It also prohibits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels or in a specified manner”.
"We're in a battle for the very soul of this nation," Biden said. "And that's not hyperbole. We're in a battle for the soul of the nation. When I look around this room here and all you hear today, it's a battle I know we will win." In a message to young LGBT+ Americans, the president said: “Just be you. You are loved. You are heard. You are understood. You do belong. I want you to know as your president, all of us on this stage have your back.”