Future state Senate President suggests Parental Rights bill could be expanded

by | Nov 2, 2022

  • Incoming Senate President Kathleen Passidomo indicated on Wednesday that if the state Republicans attain a supermajority they may expand the Parental Rights in Education bill 
  • The bill, passed earlier this year, limits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in K-3 classrooms
  • Passidomo suggested that the bill was drafted in a state of compromise and that if given the opportunity, could be expanded to encompass more grade levels 
  • The bill, branded the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, sparked national attention and outrage among many on the political left, leading to a multitude of ongoing legal battles

Incoming state Senate President Kathleen Passidomo appeared on Florida’s Voice on Wednesday, where she suggested that if the Republican Party of Florida achieves a supermajority they may work to expand the Parental Rights in Education bill.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law earlier this year, which limits “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity” in K-3 classrooms. The measure was a major pillar in the Governor’s larger legislative agenda.

The law prohibits instruction of LGBTQ topics for kindergarten through third graders while also providing parents more transparency regarding curriculum and their child’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Now, Passidomo, who assumes the Senate President role in November, says that the legislature may look to broaden the scope of regulatory language in the bill if given the opportunity.

“It’s really important that parents of any school-aged child has the right to make decisions for those kids … if we have the supermajority we’re looking for in the House and the Senate we may be able to expand that bill,” she said.

Passidomo also suggested that the original bill was written in order to reach a compromise with opposing lawmakers.

“We ended up with K-3 because we wanted the bill to pass. That’s oftentimes a part of the process. You have to compromise.”

In the early stages of the bill’s approval, Passidomo questioned a provision in the measure that permits parents to sue school systems for infractions.

Passidomo advocated for revisions in the legislation that would shift the focus away from enabling lawsuits against violating school systems and toward a system that might result in investigations and fines for school districts.

The bill, branded the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, sparked national attention and outrage among many on the political left, becoming one of the biggest ‘culture war’ issues in Florida’s 2022 Legislative Session.

Opponents argue that the broad language in the bill could harm LGBTQ children and open school districts to lawsuits from parents who disagree with such topics and discussions.

A collection of attorneys general in fifteen states and Washington D.C. filed an amicus brief in May in support of the ongoing Equality Florida v. Florida State Board of Education that seeks to see the law struck down.

The states contend the law harms children and teachers in their brief, submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

The legal brief isolates Florida, stating that the policy “stands alone” in its “censoring of instruction relating to LGBTQ problems and in its imposition of legal responsibility on school districts that do not suppress LGBTQ subjects.”


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