Florida’s House of Representatives on Feb. 24 passed a controversial bill that would prohibit the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in primary school classrooms.
After passing in the State House with a vote of 69 to 47, the Parental Rights in Education bill — dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — will now head to the Republican-led State Senate, where it is expected to pass, before heading to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for his signature.
DeSantis has previously voiced support for the bill, saying that it will create transparency for parents.
Republican Representative Joe Harding, who introduced the bill, told the Florida House floor that the measure was about “empowering parents” and improving the quality of life of children.
However, critics argued that the bill could stigmatize and isolate LGBTQ youth.
Critics also said that the broad language of the bill would allow parents who believe any conversation about the LGBTQ community or its issues is inappropriate to sue school districts.
“This bill goes way beyond the text on its page. It sends a terrible message to our youth that there is something so wrong, so inappropriate, so dangerous about this topic that we have to censor it from classroom instruction,” Democratic Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is gay, said.
State Democrats also argued that the bill was unclear about what age groups it could apply to.
According to the bill, discussions 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.”
United States President Joe Biden has previously condemned the bill and said that he will “continue to fight for the protections and safety” of the LGBTQ community.
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