Florida House approves bill banning schools from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3 classrooms

HB 1557, titled the Parental Rights in Education Bill, passed the Florida House by a vote of 69-47. The legislation is now heading to the state’s Republican-controlled Senate, where a similar bill is already being considered. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signaled his support for the legislation.
The bills have become a major flashpoint in national Conservative efforts to give parents greater control over what students learn and discuss in school, but opponents have strongly denounced the legislation, saying that would have a detrimental impact on young LGBTQ people. President Joe Biden called the proposed ban “hateful.”

“Classroom instruction by school staff or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity may not take place in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not appropriate to the age or development of students in accordance with state standards,” according to the proposal, which would also allow parents to bring civil suits against a school district for any potential violation of its rules.

In addition, the House bill would require districts “to adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there is a change in the student’s health or welfare-related services or supervision.” -mental, emotional or physical being of the student”, which LGBTQ advocates argue. could lead to some students being disclosed to their parents without the student’s knowledge or consent. Proponents also worry that the bill will restrict students’ ability to speak confidentially with school counselors — some of whom are a student’s only resource for mental health services.

The bill’s co-sponsor, Republican State Rep. Joe Harding, stressed Thursday that the bill is intended to give parents greater influence over their children’s education.

“We have a choice to empower parents in Florida or we have a choice to empower school districts. I ask you to side with parents in Florida,” he told the House just before lawmakers do not approve of the bill.

Harding previously told CNN that the bill was intended to deter school staff from inquiring about a student’s gender identity or pronouns without including their parents in the conversation. He said the experience can be confusing for young children.

Harding said he’s heard a few cases of parents complaining that school staff were discussing gender identity with their children without their input, though he didn’t specify where in the state these were. cases have occurred. On whether the bill would prevent a teacher from answering students’ questions about gender identity or sexuality, Harding said the legislation “doesn’t discourage that,” adding that instructors “know when it’s time. to engage the parent”.

LGBTQ advocates, however, warn the measure would lead to further stigmatization of gay, lesbian and transgender children, causing more bullying and suicides within an already marginalized community. They say the bill would remove LGBTQ history from the curriculum and prevent teachers from having discussions in their classrooms if questions about sexual orientation and gender identity arise.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signals support for

“I haven’t heard the sponsor of the bill or anyone else give me examples of what classroom teaching is and why…this bill was introduced,” the court said Thursday. Democratic State Rep. Michele Rayner as the bill was debated at home. “I haven’t heard from the sponsor of the bill telling me what example has happened in recent history that we need to have this bill.”

Another of the bill’s opponents, Democratic State Rep. Anna Eskamani, said Thursday that the bill was “homophobic and transphobic, bigoted and discriminatory,” adding that “it fuels a lie that children become gay or trans from inclusive schools and that being LBGTQ+ is dangerous and/or evil.”

“This bill is dangerous. This bill tells children and educators that if they are gay or come from or come from an LGBTQ+ family, they better not say anything about it. They better say don’t let anyone find out or we will take you out and put you in danger,” she said.

Opponents pointed to research by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit that works on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth. Amit Paley, the group’s CEO and executive director, said last week that their “research has consistently found a strong link between access to LGBTQ-affirming schools and reduced suicide risk.”

“LGBTQ youth who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in the classroom at school were 23% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year,” Paley said in a statement.

In a rare move earlier this month, Biden weighed in on the legislation via Twitter, writing, “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially children who will be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are. I support you and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and security you deserve.

DeSantis said earlier this month that it was “totally inappropriate” for teachers and school administrators to have conversations with students about their gender identity, although he also acknowledged, “I don’t think not that it happens here in large numbers”.

If approved by the Florida Senate and signed by DeSantis, HB 1557 will go into effect in July.


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