JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- First Coast State Representative Charles Van Zant stands by his controversial comments that the non-profit in charge of writing Florida's new standardized tests is promoting a homosexual agenda.
Tuesday First Coast News tracked down Representative Van Zant in Putnam County and he's not backing down.
Van Zant delivered a speech at a conference in Orlando two months ago. This week, after being posted online, the remarks have gone viral.
In the speech he said: Unless this is stopped, it will promote double-mindedness in state education and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.
The speech can be seen in this YouTube video:
"My concern is their website. That we are given $220 million contract to someone who on their own website says they are support and affirming of LGBT agenda in Florida's education system and student population. I'm concerned about that," said Van Zant Tuesday.
He's talking about AIR, American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit that was awarded a 6-year $220 million contract by the State of Florida to develop the new standardized test that will replace the FCAT.
On AIR's website - the guide designed to help educators support the health and well-being of children and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
"We are not an advocacy group. We have supported many states by providing high-quality assessments of their specific state standards," a spokesman for AIR told First Coast News.
In a statement released Tuesday night the CEO of Equality Florida Institute Nadine Smith said: Representative Van Zant has a long record of extremism, so while his latest rant is shocking, it is not at all surprising. It is reprehensible whenever an elected official conjures up homophobic scare tactics for political gain. His assertion that an educational program seeks to 'make children gay' is simply absurd. I hope others in Florida government will swiftly distance themselves from such a paranoid and unhinged view.
Representative Van Zant said he wants parents teachers and students to do their homework.
"Those type of things they do not need to be confronted with or learned at school and we do not need to be paying tax dollars to teach them those things or expose them to those things or discussing those things with them. Those lifestyle changes are moral issues in our state don't need to be part of our children's curriculum," Van Zant said.
"Florida has always been and will continue to be committed to assessments that solely measure a student's knowledge of subject areas and critical thinking spelled out in the Florida Standards," said Joe Follick, communications director, Florida Department of Education.
Van Zant is a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives, representing the 19th District. The district includes Bradford County, Putnam County, Union County and southern Clay County.