Don’t Say Gay: Florida Senate committee passes the Parental Rights in Education Act


Maddie Whisenant

Florida’s so called “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed on March 8, and mandates that schools are not allowed to engage students in discussions regarding gender or sexuality without the conversation being “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” manner, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The bill specifically states that these discussions are not to be held in kindergarten through third grade classes.
High school students in Florida organized a protest about the bill last Thursday. The bill awaits its final vote in the Senate after passing the committee. More than 20 schools stated they would participate in the protest. Students held signs exclaiming “Protect LGBTQ+ kids” and “Don’t Say Gay – Scream It!”
Many were confused about this bill as its intent wasn’t very clear. The bill proposed that classroom discussion concerning LGBTQ+ topics should not be allowed. It has been modified to state that sexuality and gender identity should not be included in lesson plans. For older students, Florida legislators are saying that they can discuss it, but not in an “inappropriate manner.” Florida Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Democrat member of the LGBTQ+ community asked, “What topics specifically about myself, LGBTQ+ Floridians, are not appropriate to teach in the classroom? Is it topics about how LGBTQ+ people love one another?”
Despite the many objections from Democrats referring to the proposal as “demonizing LGBTQ+ people,” the bill advanced to the Senate earlier in the week and was then passed.
“You can’t just not teach it because you don’t like it. It’s a part of history. You can’t deny a fact just because you don’t like it,” sophomore Amber Summers said.
The original bill also stated that students must inform their parents of their orientation/identity, or in other words, “mental, emotional, or physical health” in a certain amount of time unless abuse or neglect was a threat. Contrary to popular belief, one parent, whose daughter is transgender, endorses the bill speaking up for parents’ rights.
“This sent the message to my daughter that she needed to be protected from me and not by me,” the parent stated.
Senators who support the bill agree that parents should have more rights when it comes to their child’s education.
“There’s a reorientation going on in our culture, maybe some of it’s very good, but parents have a parent role, and it’s being ignored,” Senator Dennis Baxley said.
As the bill was passed in Florida, several other states are now considering passing it as well.