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Jameis Winston says he used ‘poor word choice’ after telling kids that girls are ‘supposed to be silent’

Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston speaks to the media following a game against Carolina on Jan. 1.
(Jason Behnken / Associated Press)

Jameis Winston was brought in to a Florida elementary school Wednesday to deliver a positive message to the students.

And he did that for most of his speech. But for some reason during his 40-minute speech, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback also told the girls in the room they should be “silent, polite, gentle” while informing the boys they’re “supposed to be strong.”

Winston later told the Tampa Bay Times he did not choose his words very wisely while trying to get the attention of a particular student in the audience.

“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” Winston said. “During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”

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The Heisman Trophy from Florida State was in the middle of telling his audience about his three rules in life — God, school and “I can do anything I put my mind to” — when he noticed some students looking bored.

So Winston tried to liven things up. That’s when this happened:

“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston told his audience. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this [in deep voice]. One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.

“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men [are] supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”

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Back in 2012, Winston was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at Florida State. He was never charged with a crime and settled a federal lawsuit filed by his accuser in December.

Winston has stayed out of trouble during his two seasons with the Buccaneers and was thought to be a positive role model for students in third through fifth grade at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg.

“We’ve been working so hard with our students giving them hopes and dreams and helping them raise their expectations,’' Bonnie Volland, a speech language pathologist at Melrose, told the Tampa Bay Times. “In the beginning, [Winston’s speech] was so good because he was talking about, ‘You can do it!’ and really giving our students a positive message.”

But then Winston brought gender stereotypes into his message.

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“One of the girls turned around and looked at me and said, ‘I’m strong too,’ ” Volland said.

charles.schilken@latimes.com

Twitter: @chewkiii

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