Florida has laws that prohibit schools from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity. Until recently, this law only applied to children up to the age of eight. Now the state wants to expand the law to children in 8th grade, who are 13 or 14 years old.
Conservative lawmakers in the Florida House of Representatives and Senate have introduced “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. In this, teachers are not allowed to talk about sexual orientation or gender identity at school.
EXTENSION OF THE BILL
The bill, signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in March this year, is officially called the Parental Rights in Education Bill and is designed to “protect children and support their parents.”
On March 31, the House of Representatives voted to expand the legislation. 77 people were in favour, 35 against. The new law has been given the code HB 1069. It states that conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation are prohibited up to 8th grade, so for children up to and including 13 or 14 years old.
This also means that schools are officially no longer allowed to take into account transgender or non-binary students, who are therefore also not allowed to be addressed with the desired pronouns.
Finally, parents would also be given more leeway with regard to inclusive learning materials or books used in school. In practice, this is already happening: all kinds of well-known books about, for example, a child with two fathers or two mothers have been removed from the bookcases.
During the debate, the Democrats pointed out to the Republican authors of the legislation that its expansion would violate even more LGBTQ students and teachers.
Democratic Rep. Rita Harris said: “Teachers have literally taken bullets for their students. They do everything to protect these students. They don’t indoctrinate our children. They are heroes, not villains. This law will force these great teachers to leave the profession or move to another state.”
Rep. Angie Nixon chimed in: “The LGBTQ community is not going away. Transgender people are not going away. What has disappeared, and I hope it will return one day, is human decency.”