Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried had harsh words for Gov. Ron DeSantis as the Sunshine State's GOP leader wages culture wars issues inside public schools.
"In response to a Florida Department of Education memo that said school districts can ignore federal sex discrimination guidelines, Fried criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis and Education Commissioner Manny Diaz for encouraging schools districts to ignore federal anti-discrimination law and risk the loss of federal funds for free or reduced-price school meals," the Tallahassee Democrat reported Friday.
Fried is running for the Democratic nomination for governor in the August 23 primary. Also running for the nomination is Rep. Charlie Crist, who was a Republican when he previously served as governor from 2007 to 2011.
"I'm going to just come out and call this exactly what this is," Fried said. "It's extremism politics getting in the way of feeding our children. I will not allow Gov. DeSantis or anyone to deny food to hungry kids for any reason."
Fried's office administers school lunch programs and coordinates with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch Program. After the Biden administration issued new anti-discrimination rules, her office instructed schools to comply.
But on Thursday, the DeSantis-appointed education commission, a former GOP legislator, issued a memo telling the schools that they do not have to comply with Fried's guidance.
"Commissioner Diaz is now actively encouraging Florida schools to disobey the guidance, refuse to hang the poster, and feel free to deny nutritious meals to children on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, including gender identity and sexual orientation, age or disability," Fried said. "It's weird, and rather creepy."