The Truth of Florida’s new law, you can ‘Say Gay’ all day
One of the most controversial bills to go through the legislature this session is HB 1557, described by progressive groups such as the HRC, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The upset is over the idea that this bill is anti LGBTQ+ and that it aims to prevent children from hearing about diverse families and any person who isn’t from a standard nuclear family. The question is, is any of the rhetoric true?
Here are some questions and answers from the House staff that explain the truth about the bill.
Question: Does the bill say not to use the word gay?
Answer: This is absolutely false. There is nothing in the bill that says this.
Question: What does this bill actually do?
Answer: This is a parental rights bill. Parents want to be able to have first discussions about sex and gender with their children. They do not want the first lessons to be given in school. Teachers are not to instruct children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade about anything having to do with sex and gender.
Additionally, parents must be alerted when a school evaluates a student’s physical, mental, or emotional needs.
Parents can opt-out of instruction about sex and gender for children older than third grade. (Same as before, but sexual orientation and gender identity are now included in the list that parents must approve in terms of “sex education.”)
The bill prohibits schools from denying parents access to information about their own children regarding sex and gender.
Question: What if a child wants to discuss these issues with a teacher and they’re afraid of their parents finding out?
Answer: The bill allows for such information to be withheld if a reasonably prudent person believes that such disclosure would result in the student’s abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
Question: I saw a commercial where a little girl wanted to talk in class about her two moms but wasn’t allowed to. Are children no longer allowed to discuss this in class?
Answer: This is probably the biggest question out there. Children can discuss their families. Teachers can discuss this as well. What the bill doesn’t allow is a discussion about their sex lives. Children are welcome to talk about their families. All family structures are encouraged.
Question: If a teacher reads a book to a class and the parents are two men, is the teacher allowed to read that book to the class?
Answer: Yes. As long as it isn’t a book isn’t about sex or gender identity, the book is completely fine. Ex: If the book is about little Charlie’s day at the park and his parents are a same-sex couple, that is completely fine.
This bill gives parents the ability to make decisions for their own children
Question: Why did this bill necessary? How did this bill come about?
Answer: There was a school in Florida, Leon county, helping a student transition without parental knowledge. The school is being sued. The case is ongoing. The child was working with the school on a name change and restroom
preferences without parental consent. The parents knew what the child was going through, and the child was in therapy, but the school took it upon themselves to start the transition, and the parents had no idea. The school initially told the family what was going on with the child but didn’t inform them of their next steps. The lawsuit is about the right for parents to know what is going on with their children. The parents feel that they should have known what the school was doing.
This bill gives parents the ability to make decisions for their own children and decide when it is appropriate to have first discussions about sex and gender.
Here is some additional information from the House regarding this bill. Fiction vs. Fact.
Fiction: Age-appropriate instruction is subjective and unclear.
Fact: Florida’s academic standards, used throughout K-12, are developed by stakeholders including subject-area experts, teachers, and other community members and adopted by the State Board of Education. These standards are a reliable, objective guidepost for when instruction is age-appropriate, regardless of the subject.
Fiction: Children with same-sex parents will not be able to talk about their families.
Fact: Children are welcome to share about their families because parents should be active participants in their child’s education. However, teachers should not instruct 6-year-olds about gender identity or sexual orientation or lead those conversations.
Fiction: The bill bans the word “gay” in classrooms.
Fact: Absolutely false. This bill bans classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in Kindergarten through 3rd grade and requires age and developmentally appropriate instruction according to state standards for other grades.
Fiction: This would erase LGBTQ+ history and culture from lesson plans, sending a chilling message to LGBTQ+ young people and communities.
Fact: Age and developmentally appropriate conversations about sexual orientation and gender identity will occur at school, but parents, not teachers, should be initiating these conversations with younger students.
This bill is not discriminatory in any way, it is not anti LGBTQ+, and it is not anti-diverse family structures.
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