Senator issues apology (sort of) for her comment that gay isn’t permanent

Republican State Sen. Ileana Garcia of District 37, which includes Miami-Dade, speaks during the Florida legislative session about the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill. (The Florida Channel)

MIAMI, Fla. – Sen. Ileana Garcia (R-FL) received more than a few heated responses after her comments on the Senate floor just before the passing of HB 1557.

Expressing her support for the Parental Rights in Education bill, known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, and just before its passing on March 8, Garcia’s 15-minute speech championed the bill that would prevent teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity to younger students.

“Gay is not a permanent thing, LGBT is not a permanent thing,” Garcia said.

(Watch Garcia’s speech during the session @ 1:19:11: Senate Session 3/8/22)

On Thursday, Garcia released a statement on her Twitter account to apologize “to anyone I offended by my comments . . .” and that as a Senator, “and more importantly, as a life-long member of this community, I fully understand the responsibility and impact of words on others.”

She did state, however, that she stands by the bill that school systems not instruct children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade about sexual identity or sexual orientation.

“My failed attempt to convey the complexity and nuances of this matter in no way diminish the fact that the Parent Rights Legislation is first and foremost about allowing children to be children and giving parents the right to guide their childhood.”

According to gay rights advocates, Garcia’s speech in which she shared accounts of LGBTQ+ people in her life “misgendered” a transgender “very good friend of mine” and shared disinformation about gender identity.

“Went through the whole transition as an older man, at 58 years old, became a woman. Guess what? He still likes women,” she said. “He went through the whole process. And we’d laugh together and I’d say, ‘Why do you want to deal with the hormones? Why do you want to have to worry about the extension? Isn’t there hair and the boobs and the nails?’ And he loved it. And when he went through the transition and had an experience, a sexual experience. With all due respect, there were children and I say this with respect, you realize that he continued to like women.”

(See her statement regarding the comments below.)

On Tuesday, March 8, Florida senators passed the controversial bill with a 22-17 vote.

Senators Jennifer Bradley, of Orange Park, and Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, were the only two Republicans among the 17 who voted against the bill on Tuesday. The other 22 Republicans voted to pass the bill.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he is prepared to sign it into law. President Joe Biden condemned the bill as hateful to the LGBTQ+ community.

Once signed by DeSantis, the bill would go into effect for the 2022-2023 school year.


About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true-crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.