A Florida House committee passed a bill banning discussions about gender ideology and sexual orientation in primary level classrooms on Thursday.
The House Education and Employment Committee overwhelmingly passed the ”Parental Rights in Education Bill,” also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to prohibit teachers from discussing LGBTQ-related issues with primary level students. The legislation intends to protect the “fundamental rights of parents” to choose what their children are taught.
“A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students,” the bill states.
The legislation allows for a parent to pursue “declaratory or injunctive relief” against a school district that violates the new rules. The court may award parents attorney fees and court costs in the midst of the legal action.
It is not the job of school administrators, teachers or counselors to replace the role of a parent. HB 1557 protects every parent's right to a role in their child's education, health and well-being. Thank you, Representatives @josephbharding & @ChrisLatvala for your leadership. pic.twitter.com/Ow3PtjU8oP
— FL House Republicans (@FLGOPMajority) January 21, 2022
The bill also requires school administrators to notify parents if there are any changes to a student’s “mental, emotional, or physical health or well being.” School personnel will be required to encourage students to openly talk with an adult about their wellbeing and are prohibited from withholding any information regarding their child’s physical and mental wellbeing from the parents.
The bill was introduced by Republican Florida state Sen. Dennis Baxley, who said the legislation “defends” a parent’s responsibility, according to The Hill.
“This bill is about defending the most awesome responsibility a person can have: being a parent,” Baxley said. “That job can only be given to you by above.”
Chasten Buttigieg, husband of transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, called out Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for allegedly making his state a difficult place for LGBTQ children to “survive in.”
“This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in,” Buttigieg said. “In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can’t talk to their teachers?”
This will kill kids, @RonDeSantisFL. You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in. In a national survey (@TrevorProject), 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year. Now they can't talk to their teachers? https://t.co/VtfFLPlsn3
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) January 20, 2022
A separate Trevor Project study found that LGBTQ students learning about the issue resulted in a 23% drop in suicide attempts last year. The Trevor Project’s director of advocacy and government affairs, Sam Ames, said the bill will harm LGBTQ students.
“This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” Ames said. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”
Jon Harris Maurer said teachings about sexuality and gender identity is “prejudicial” and insults LGBTQ students or those with LGBTQ parents. He argued that those that support the bill cannot call themselves “allies of the LGBTQ community.”
The bill requires the Department of Education to review and update school counseling, professional conduct principles and other guidelines to ensure they are in accordance with the new regulations by June 30, 2022.