- A House bill filing in Florida seeks to expand the Parental Rights in Education bill, which imposes restrictions on sexual orientation and gender identity topics in schools, to include Pre-K through eighth grade and charter schools.
- The bill would prohibit educators or school employees from being required to use a student’s pronouns if they don’t match those they were assigned at birth.
- The legislation also adds charter schools to the list of educational institutions that would have to comply with the measure.
- Republican leaders hinted at an expansion to the bill last year, with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo indicating last November that they would work to expand the legislation if the Republican Party of Florida achieved a supermajority.
The Parental Rights in Education bill could be expanded upon, if a Monday bill filing is any indication. House Bill 1223, filed by Rep. Adam Anderson, seeks to build upon legislation passed last year, imposing new restrictions on pronoun attribution and sexual instruction in Florida schools.
In the bill’s purview, it would broaden constraints on sexual orientation and gender identity topics in schools from kindergarten to third grade, as set up by its precursor legislation, to Pre-K through eighth grade. The legislation would also prohibit educators or other school employees from being required to use a student’s pronouns if they don’t match those they were assigned at birth.
If adopted, the measure would expand state law to encompass charter schools as well. When ratified last year, the Parental Rights in Education bill only applied to public schools.
“It shall be the policy of every public K-12 educational institution that is provided or authorized by the Constitution and laws of Florida that a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex,” reads the bill.
Republican leaders have long hinted at an expansion to the Parental Rights bill, with Senate President Kathleen Passidomo indicating last November that if the Republican Party of Florida achieves a supermajority — which it did — they would work to expand the legislation.
“It’s really important that parents of any school-aged child have 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,” said Passidomo.
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 argued 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.
Contending that the law harms children and teachers, a collection of attorneys general in fifteen states and Washington D.C. filed an amicus brief last May in support of the Equality Florida v. Florida State Board of Education lawsuit that sought to see the law struck down.
Opponents of the Parental Rights in Education bill have criticized Monday’s bill filing, including former state Representative Carlos G. Smith, who served as Florida’s first LGBTQ Latino lawmaker.
“Ron DeSantis Republicans are pushing to expand Don’t Say Gay by censoring and excluding LGBTQ people through 8th grade, even in charter schools,” said Smith. “They also want government regulation of pronouns. It’s all to distract from their inability to solve real problems.”
Attempts to reach Rep. Anderson for further comment on the bill did not receive an immediate response.