'Stop bullying kids': Florida parents fire back after DeSantis scolded teens for wearing masks
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is facing fierce backlash after he bullied teens into taking off their masks during a recent press conference held at the University of South Florida (USF). Now, the parents of those students are speaking out.
At the onset of the event purported to be about cybersecurity education, the Republican governor criticized the students for wearing masks.
During an interview with WFLA after the press conference, some of the parents of the Middleton High School students weighed in with their reactions to DeSantis' actions. Kevin Brown Sr., father of one of the students, had a brief message to DeSantis. “I would tell (the governor) to stop bullying kids,” Brown said.
Dawn Marshall said she was very displeased with how the governor spoke to her son. “It’s just shocking that the governor told these kids take off your mask,” she said. “He pretty much said take off your mask, it’s stupid, and take off your mask your parents don’t matter.”
During the press conference, DeSantis criticized the students as he falsely claimed that masks are ineffective. The governor also disregarded the students' rights to wear the masks. “You do not have to wear those masks,” DeSantis said. “I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it’s not doing anything and we’ve gotta stop with this COVID theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous.”
When asked if he felt pressured to remove his mask, Marshall's son Eric Marshall said, “A little. It was more of pressure of an adult figure asking me to do something and it’s just like alright.”
"I would tell (the governor) to stop bullying kids."\n\nKevin Brown says Gov. DeSantis had no right to tell his son and the other high school students to take off their masks. \n\nHis son decided to keep his mask on during the press conference at USF. \nhttps://www.wfla.com/news/politics/this-is-ridiculous-desantis-scolds-students-for-wearing-face-masks-during-his-usf-visit/\u00a0\u2026 @WFLApic.twitter.com/nnBTJNmfQF— Justin Schecker (@Justin Schecker) 1646271913
Kevin Brown Jr. made the decision to keep his mask on. “I was thinking I don’t know if I should take it off or leave it on cause its the governor,” Brown said. “He asked us to take it off but I thought about it and it’s my right to have my mask on.”
In wake of DeSantis' latest controversy, Hillsborough Superintendent Addison Davis distanced herself from the governor's remarks. In a statement she said, “Our students should be valued and celebrated. It is a student and parents’ choice to protect their health in a way they feel most appropriate.”
Brown's father echoed similar sentiments. “His mother tells him to wear the mask,” Kevin Brown Sr. said. “I tell him it’s his choice, so he made that choice and the governor has no right to tell no kid or no one who they can or can’t wear a mask. He doesn’t have that right.”
Despite the pushback, DeSantis' office still claims masks are ineffective. His press secretary Christina Pushaw has released a statement saying, “After two years of mixed messages from health authorities and the media, the governor wants to make sure everyone is aware of the facts and data now, so they can feel free and comfortable without a mask."
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