Miami, Florida – Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed the controversial Parents Rights in Education bill, known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, into law, at a preparatory school in Spring Hill.
The law forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for older students. “This is inappropriate for kindergarteners and first graders and second graders, parents do not want this going on in their schools,” said DeSantis before he signed the bill.
The law also ensures that at the beginning of every school year, parents will be notified about healthcare services offered at the school with the right to decline any service offered. According to the law, whenever a questionnaire or health screening is given to our young students, parents receive it first and give permission for the school to give it to their child.
According to DeSantis, protections for parents are needed. “Now in Florida, we found at least six school districts that had policies to cut parents out of decisions regarding their child’s well being and to shield them from knowing about various forms of mental health services, Broward, Hillsborough, Miami Dade, Palm Beach, Sarasota, and Volusia counties,” he said.
“Martin County also had a gender transition plan that can be implemented without the parents’ consent,” he added.
Amid increased attention on Florida, as Republicans push culture war legislation and DeSantis ascends in the GOP as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, the legislation has drawn intense criticism from LGBTQ advocates, students, national Democrats, the White House, and the entertainment industry.
According to Republican Rep. Joe Harding, who sponsored the measure, and other GOP lawmakers in Florida, parents should be broaching these subjects with their children, rather than educators.
It would not bar spontaneous discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools but instead is intended to prevent districts from integrating the subjects into the official curriculum, Harding and supporters have said. Some argue the bill is a moot point because sexuality is not a part of the K-3rd grade curriculum. Critics argue the bill marginalizes LGBTQ people.
According to Democrats, the bill’s language, particularly the phrases “classroom instruction” and “age-appropriate,” could be interpreted broadly enough that discussion in any grade could trigger lawsuits from parents and therefore could create a classroom atmosphere where teachers would avoid the subjects.
The White House had previously criticized the measure and President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has called it “hateful.” Statewide, the bill has sparked a swell of protests and student walkouts.