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Florida lawmakers advanced a bill that would allow parents to sue schools if staff speak to students about gender identity or sexuality

The US flag and an LGBTQ pride flag on the front facade of the US Embassy in Moscow.

Valery Sharifulin/Getty Images

  • A Florida House committee passed a bill designed to prevent the discussion of gender identity in schools.
  • The Parental Rights in Education bill says it protects a parent’s “fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children.”
  • Advocates for the LGBTQ slammed the bill and said it would be harmful to LGBTQ youth.

Florida lawmakers earlier this week passed a bill designed to prevent the discussion of gender identity and sexuality in the classroom. 

The Parental Rights in Education bill, voted on largely along party lines by Florida House committee members on Thursday, “is about defending the most awesome responsibility a person can have: being a parent,” said Florida state Rep. Joe Harding, who introduced the bill, according to a report from Florida Politics. 

The legislation, which advocates call a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, says parents can take legal action against a school district if Florida teachers speak about LGBTQ topics like identity and sexuality that do not fall under “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” guidelines for students. 

The bill says it protects a parent’s “fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children.”

Advocates for the LGBTQ community slammed the bill, saying it would create additional barriers for LGBTQ students.  

The Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth, said in a report published in August that schools can play a significant role in supporting LGBT youth. Students who learned about LGBTQ issues or people in the classroom had “23% lower odds” of reporting a suicide attempt in the last year, according to the report.

“This bill will erase young LGBTQ students across Florida, forcing many back into the closet by policing their identity and silencing important discussions about the issues they face,” said Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project. “LGBTQ students deserve their history and experiences to be reflected in their education, just like their peers.”

“This will kill kids,” said Chasten Buttigieg, LGBTQ rights advocate and the husband of transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg.

—Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) January 20, 2022

 

“You are purposefully making your state a harder place for LGBTQ kids to survive in,” said Buttigieg, calling out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

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