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DeSantis signs bill restricting gender, sexuality discussion in schools

Bill's language has opponents calling it 'Don't Say Gay' bill
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Posted at 11:18 AM, Mar 28, 2022

SPRING HILL, Fla. — Governor Ron DeSantis signed the "Parental Rights in Education" bill into law Monday afternoon.

House Bill 1557 was deemed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by Democratic opponents and LGBTQ+ advocates, who say the language in the bill is hateful and discriminatory.

FULL TEXT: Read HB 1557, "Parental Rights in Education"

“We will make sure that parents can send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination,” DeSantis said before he signed the bill into law. He and other speakers stood at a podium affixed with a placard reading Protect Children/Support Parents.

Per the text of the bill, all instruction on gender and sexuality would be constrained throughout all grade levels. Particularly, instruction on those topics would be barred in grades kindergarten through 3 "or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."

The bill also prohibits "classroom discussion" on the topics, a term considered by opponents to be "broad and vague" and open to wider interpretation.

Republicans have argued the bill would not stop teachers from engaging in spontaneous discussions, but that the structure of the language is meant to prevent districts from integrating lessons on those topics into the curriculum.

State Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book released the following statement following DeSantis' signing of the bill:

Today, Governor DeSantis signed yet another piece of divisive and particularly cruel legislation, in HB1157.

Dismissive and uninformed Republicans claims the reason for national outrage is because we haven’t read the bill. We read it. So did medical professionals, educators, community leaders, and parents. It is an attack on Florida’s LGBTQ+ community and our teachers. Perhaps the Senate Republican bill sponsor didn’t read it, or understand it, because he couldn’t even define simple terms in the bill, including “sexual orientation.”

Crafted in ignorance and fear mongering, this legislation has little to do with student safety and everything to do with culture wars fabricated by Republicans.

Other key passages in the bill:

  • Schools would be required to notify parents when children receive mental, emotional or physical health services, unless educators believe there is a risk of “abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”
  • Parents would have the right to opt their children out of counseling and health services.
  • Parents could sue schools for violating the points covered in the bill, and districts would have to cover the costs.

Florida would rewrite school counseling standards to align with the tenets covered in the bill.