Florida Passes Controversial Bill Limiting LGBT Discussion In School
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Florida lawmakers have passed a controversial bill that would prohibit discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in primary schools.
The Parental Rights in Education bill, which has been dubbed 'Don't Say Gay' by its critics, was passed in the Florida Senate on Tuesday, March 8, after being passed by the state House last month.
If brought into law, the bill would ban 'classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity' in primary schools, affecting students from kindergarten through to third grade.
The bill also prohibits teaching on such topics 'in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students', a stipulation critics have said could be interpreted to cover all primary school-age students.
Parents would be able to sue school districts for alleged violations of the bill, with supporters claiming it allows parents to have more control over the children's education, NBC News reports.
Ahead of the vote on Tuesday, which passed 22-17, Republican Sen. Danny Burgess said: 'This bill says [to] parents your right to raise your children does not end when they walk into a classroom. This bill recognises that parents are not the enemy. The bill simply says that there should be an age limit on certain discussions, it’s not a new concept, nor is it radical.'
EXCLUSIVE: Students in Winter Park, Florida are currently staging a MASSIVE walkout to protest the heinous GOP 'Don't Say Gay' bill. Video shot by @proudtwinkie. #LetFreeFloridaSayGay pic.twitter.com/gbzHeGiPc4— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) March 7, 2022
However, critics have argued the bill unfairly targets the LGBTQ+ community, with Democrat Sen. Annette Taddeo, saying it would 'endanger the safety of [...] LGBTQ students and adolescents'.
Taddeo added: 'We will not stop until this state moves forward and actually values everyone in it, everyone no matter their sexual orientation.'
On Monday, Florida's first openly gay state senator, Democrat Shevrin Jones, proposed an amendment to the bill to narrow its language to say instruction should not be 'intended to change a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity'.
Jones urged his colleagues to 'open up your hearts just a tad bit', adding: 'Please, do no harm.'
A tearful @ShevrinJones, who is gay, asks his Senate colleagues to reconsider the "don't say gay bill" aka "Parental Rights in Education,'' noting the courage it takes for LGBTQ kids who came to the Capitol. "Just step out make sure we're not hurting people,'' he says. pic.twitter.com/oQy6y1WybG— Mary Ellen Klas (@MaryEllenKlas) March 7, 2022
The senator’s proposed amendment failed, and the measure is now set to be passed to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who indicated his support for the bill on Monday, Reuters reports, by saying: 'We’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum.'
The vote came after students across Florida walked out of classrooms in protest of the bill, which has also been condemned by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Should DeSantis sign the bill, it will go into effect on July 1.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]