Florida Parental Rights in Education Bill Nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill By Opponents

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As parental rights and controversial curriculum surrounding deeply personal values such as sexuality, gender, and race have taken center stage in many state’s local political scene over the last year, a Florida bill which would restrict what kinds of sexuality-based education schools may provide for young students is being referred to frustrated opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The legislation, officially titled the Parental Rights in Education bill, is headed for the state Senate floor after passing the state House and a Senate committee last month.

Opponents take issue with the fact that it restricts educators from addressing certain LGBTQ+ topics that are considered to not be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

“I am really amazed at how something so simple turned into this,” State Sen. Dennis Baxley (R), who The Hill notes authored the bill’s companion legislation, said of the reaction, which he said has been “fabricated by the media.”

Indeed, any search for “Florida sex ed bill” or similar wording online will produce an array of legacy media outlets characterizing the bill as the “Don’t Say Gay bill.”

The bill, Baxley noted, “does one simple thing – it decides who’s in charge.” That is, the parents—the bill would also empower parents to take action if they believe their children are being taught inappropriate lessons on sexuality or sexual and gender identity.

“I’m not trying to demonize anybody, I’m not trying to negate the values of teachers. I’m just trying to come back to center point. Parents must be in charge of these decisions,” he added, also noting that despite the negative reaction, he doesn’t “hate” anyone.

The legislation certainly has its opponents within Florida’s state Democratic Party, as well, however.

“I don’t ever remember telling my young students, ‘don’t worry, you don’t have to pick a gender,’” said state Sen. Lauren Book (D), a former educator. “I don’t remember teaching LGBTQ propaganda from secret lesson plans. And I don’t remember breaking any Florida law by telling a parent that they couldn’t review my lesson plans.”

“It didn’t happen. It didn’t happen then, and it doesn’t happen now,” she added. “Florida educators are not indoctrinating young children with age inappropriate or developmentally inappropriate curriculum. These are professionals.”

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, one of the Republican Party’s most prominent elected officials, responded to what he described as a mischaracterization of the bill’s intentions in a press conference last week.

“You actually look at the bill, and it says, ‘no sexual instruction in grades Pre-K through 3,’” he said, as reported by BizPacReview. “And so, how many parents want their kindergarteners to have transgenderism or something injected into classroom instruction? And so, I think those are very young kids. I think the legislature is basically trying to give parents assurance that they’re gonna be able to go, and this stuff’s not gonna be there.”

“Clearly, right now, we see a lot of focus on the transgenderism – telling kids that they may be able to pick genders and all that,” he also noted. “I don’t think parents want that for these young kids, and so I think that’s what they were trying to do, and I think that’s justifiable.”

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