Florida Senate OKs controversial bill banning sexual identity discussion in schools

The so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill now heads to Gov. DeSantis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Republicans in the Florida Senate passed the “parental rights in education” bill Tuesday, despite a day of debate and chants outside the chamber of “We say gay,” sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his signature.

The vote on the bill was 27 to 17, with two Republicans — senators Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Jennifer Bradley of Orange Park — joining Democrats in voting against the bill.

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The controversial HB 1557 prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms and also bars teaching those topics in other classrooms in ways that are “not age-appropriate.”

The bill prohibits schools from not notifying parents about a student’s “mental, emotional or physical health or well-being”, which could include requiring schools to “out” LGTBQ students to parents. The bill does make allowances if that notification could lead to a child being abused, abandoned or neglected.

The bill also allows parents to sue school districts if they believe a school violated the bill.

Read the full bill for yourself.

Conservative supporters of the bill said it will stop “social engineering” and the influencing of children to consider an LGBTQ identity.

Critics, who have dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, said the bill will be problematic and even dangerous for LGBTQ children who are coming to terms with their identity.

DeSantis has indicated he will sign the bill. The governor’s office has come under fire in recent days after his spokesperson, Christina Pushaw, said that critics of the bill were “probably pedophiles” on Twitter.

Equality Florida, an LGBTQ civil rights group, has already that they are preparing for legal action.

“Let us be clear: should its vague language be interpreted in any way that causes harm to a single child, teacher, or family, we will lead legal action against the State of Florida to challenge this bigoted legislation.

“We will not sit by and allow the governor’s office to call us pedophiles. We will not allow this bill to harm LGBTQ Floridians. We will not permit any school to enforce this in a way that endangers the safety of children. We stand ready to fight for Floridians in court and hold lawmakers who supported this bill accountable at the ballot box.”


About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.