ORLANDO, Fla. — A video that shows a Florida lawmaker using homophobic rhetoric to describe an organization developing a statewide test for students under a new education curriculum modeled after Common Core emerged this week.
State Rep. Charles Van Zant (R-Clay County) said during a speech at the Operation Education Conference in March that American Institutes for Research would “attract everyone of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.” The Republican also said curriculum supporters are “promoting as hard as they can any youth that is interested in the LGBT agenda.”
Think Progress published a video of Van Zant’s comments on May 19.
“It is reprehensible whenever an elected official conjures up homophobic scare tactics for political gain,” said Equality Florida Institute CEO Nadine Smith. “His assertion that an educational program seeks to ‘make children gay’ is simply absurd.”
SAVE Dade, a South Florida LGBT advocacy group, described Van Zant’s statements as “ignorant at best and hateful at worst.”
Van Zant — who has previously made anti-LGBT comments — defended his remarks during an interview that a Jacksonville, Fla., television station broadcast on May 20.