Republicans predominate Florida On Tuesday, the legislature passed a bill banning the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten until third grade, dismissing a wave of criticism from Democrats that it marginalizes LGBTQ + people.
The proposal, which opponents have dubbed the “Don’t Tell Gays” bill, is now being passed to the Republican governor’s table. Ron DeSantiswho is expected to sign it into law.
Since its inception, the measure has provoked strong opposition from LGBTQ + supporters, students, Democrats, the White House and the entertainment industry amid heightened attention to Florida-like Republicans push cultural warfare legislation, and DeSantis becomes a potential Republican presidential candidate.
“We really need to teach tolerance, care, love, anti-discrimination and bigotry. Tell me how this bill does. Explain how this bill helps us create good, gifted, tolerant adults. I don’t see it. I see the opposite, ”said Senator Tina Polski, a Democrat.
The bill states: “Training of school staff or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not take place in kindergarten until the third grade or in a form that does not meet the age or development of students in accordance with state standards.”
Parents could sue the districts for violations.
Republican State Representative Joe Harding, who sponsored the measure, and other Republican lawmakers argued that parents should address these issues with their children, not educators.
The bill does not prohibit spontaneous discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, but instead seeks to prevent districts from integrating subjects into the official curriculum, Harding and his supporters said.
“I know how important it is to empower parents in this regard. I want to encourage parents across Florida to own them, ”said Sen. Dennis Bexley, a Republican who passed the bill in the Senate. “They’re your kids, and it’s hard – it’s hard to understand what impact they will have and what decisions they will make and how it all comes out.”
Democrats have often said that the language of the bill, in particular the phrases “classroom teaching” and “age-appropriate”, can be interpreted broadly enough that discussion in any classroom could provoke parental litigation and thus create a classroom atmosphere. in which teachers will avoid subjects.
Across the state, the bill sparked protests and student withdrawals. Dozens of students and lawyers flooded the halls of committees in the early stages of the bill, and then filled the halls of the legislature as it moved toward the final message, often chanting “We say gay!”
“We have failed as a legislature when hundreds of children stand in the streets and shout for their rights, and you cannot explain to fifth-graders, sixth-graders and eighth-graders the simple definitions of your bill. You have failed, ”said State Sen. Jason Pizza, a Democrat.
In the early stages of the bill, Harding filed an amendment requiring the school to inform parents when a student addresses a teacher as LGBTQ +, resuming widespread condemnation. Harding withdrew the amendment.
“There was nothing in the amendment about the student walking. Instead of fighting the misinformation associated with the amendment, I decided to focus on the primary bill, which gives parents the opportunity to participate in the lives of their children, ”Harding said.
DeSantis angrily called the proposal a “Don’t Tell Gays” bill because he said it would apply to teaching any gender identity or sexual orientation. He said it was indecent for teachers to discuss these issues with children from kindergarten to third grade.
“We are going to make sure that parents will be able to send their child to kindergarten without including part of it in their school curriculum,” the governor said Monday.
White House, who fought with DeSantiscriticized the measure, and Joe Biden called it “hateful.”
On Tuesday, shortly after the measure was passed at the State House, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona issued a statement saying: “Florida leaders prefer hateful bills that harm some of the students most in need.
“The U.S. Department of Education has made it clear that all federally funded schools must comply with federal civil rights law, including protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Section IX.
“We support our LGBTQ + students in Florida and across the country and urge Florida leaders to make sure all of their students are protected and supported.”