Florida’s senate passed the Parental Rights in Education bill Tuesday which would bar teachers from engaging kindergartners through third-graders in discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity.
The bill advanced through the Florida senate after the state house of representatives approved it late last month. It has earned the staunch support of Governor Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it shortly.
“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity 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 reads.
While the bill’s author has specified that it applies only to official curriculum and doesn’t bar gay teachers from discussing their family lives, activists have claimed that it amounts to a “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the effective erasure of the LGBTQ community in public schools. President Biden slammed it as a “hateful” attack on gay kids last month.
Biden doubled-down on this idea that the bill was bigoted by retweeting an earlier post from the White House that read: “Today, conservative politicians in Florida advanced legislation designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids. Instead of making growing up harder for young people,@POTUS is focused on keeping schools open and supporting students’ mental health.”
Hundreds of students at a Florida’s Winter Park High School in Orange County participated in a walk-out Monday to protest the bill. Some students shouted “We say gay!” and held signs that read “Protect trans kids,” CNN reported.
Florida Democrats in the state legislature demonstrated in the Florida capitol by the entrance to the governor’s office, mocking the bill by singing “gay,” press secretary for DeSantis Christina Pushaw told National Review and Twitter video confirmed.
Proponents of the bill believe it’s an important measure designed to protect young kids’ innocence and limit their exposure to conversations about gender and sexual orientation before they’ve matured.
During a press conference Monday, DeSantis challenged a reporter’s use of the “Don’t Say Gay” title that progressives have assigned to it in his question.
“Does it say that in the bill? Does it say that in the bill? I’m asking you to tell me what’s in the bill because you are pushing false narratives,” he said.
The reporter replied that the bill bars classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation, to which DeSantis shot back, “For who? For grades pre-K through 3. So, five-year-olds, six-year-olds, seven-year-olds. The idea that you wouldn’t be honest about that and tell people what it actually says is why people don’t trust people like you.”
Republican state senator Dennis Baxley, who spearheaded the bill, said the purpose of banning such sensitive topics for K–3 is to restore authority to parents, who are better equipped to address them in the early stages of childhood development.
“Some discussions are for [having] with your parents,” he told Fox News in February. “And I think when you start having sexual-type discussions with children, you’re entering a very dangerous zone. Your awareness should pop up right away, this isn’t teaching.”
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