(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — The Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by LGBTQ activists, has now been passed by both the Florida Senate and House. The bill would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.
Under this legislation, these lessons “may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The bill would also allow parents to sue schools or teachers that engage in these topics.
If the bill is ultimately signed into law, it would go into effect July 1. Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he supports the bill, though he hasn’t explicitly said he will sign it if it crosses his desk.
LGBTQ activists and advocates slammed the decision to move the legislation forward, saying it will harm queer youth by shunning representation and inclusion from classrooms. They also say erasing the presence of the LGBTQ community from lessons implies students should be ashamed or should suppress their gender identity or sexual orientation.
In a recent interview on ABC News’ podcast “Start Here,” Florida state Rep. Joe Harding defended the bill, which he introduced. He said the bill would not prohibit people from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms, as the bill once stated, but that it would ban curriculum and lessons.
“What we’re preventing is a school district deciding they’re going to create a curriculum to insert themselves,” Harding said.
He said the decision to talk about these topics should be left to the parents.
“Families are families,” Harding said. “Let the families be families. The school district doesn’t need to insert themselves at that point when children are still learning how to read and do basic math.”
The Biden administration has denounced the bill as anti-LGBTQI+.
“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” President Joe Biden said in a Feb. 8 Twitter post.
Similar bills have been seen in several other states including Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma and Kansas.
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