Florida has taken another step forward this Thursday in its objective of carrying out the controversial law known as “Do not say gay”. The House of Representatives of the southern state, with a conservative majority, has approved the text that restricts the discussion of teachers and students on sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. The bill also allows parents to take legal action against schools if a teacher breaks the law, which is now up for a vote in the local Senate.
The bill states that “teaching by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity cannot occur from kindergarten through third grade [cuando los niños tienen entre ocho y nueve años] or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards.” The avalanche of criticism from organizations in favor of LGBTQ+ rights lies in the fact that the text does not specify what is meant by “age-appropriate” or “student development”.
Democrats also reject that parents can sue a school district if a teacher breaks the law, because that, they argue, will make teachers afraid to talk to their students. In addition, by not specifying what is meant by “appropriate”, parents can subjectively define what are the teaching frameworks that their children should receive regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Parents’ Rights in Education Bill has been approved by 69 votes in favor and 46 against. All Democratic lawmakers rejected the proposal, and seven Republicans joined them. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has not specified whether, if both Houses approve the bill, he will sign it to officially make it law. The proposal has attracted intense debate and has become a battleground between the White House and DeSantis, who is running for re-election.
The governor of Florida, one of the strongest figures in the Republican Party, considers that it is “totally inappropriate” for teachers to talk to their students about these issues. According to the governor, teachers are telling children: “don’t worry, don’t choose your gender yet”. President Joe Biden responded to the Republican with a statement on Twitter. “I want all members of the LGBTQI+ community, especially the children who will be affected by this hateful bill, to know that they are loved and accepted just the way they are,” the president wrote. “I’ll have your back,” he added.
The project presented by Republican Congressman Joe Harding has been the most notorious of the other 15 similar texts presented in state congresses. All of them try to limit textbooks and subjects that address issues of the LGBTQ+ community.
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