An inflammatory amendment to an already controversial Florida bill would have forced teachers to “out” LGBTQ+ students to their parents.
The amendment, offered by State Rep. Joe Harding (R-FL), was removed Tuesday after statewide backlash.
Harding, who sponsored Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, sought to have the following language included in the legislation:
“The school principal or his or her designee shall develop a plan, using all available governmental resources, to disclose such information within 6 weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent.”
Even though the amendment was withdrawn, the bill still seeks to limit the ability of school officials to protect students from being outed to their parents. Language in the legislation expressly prohibits school districts from creating politics to protect student privacy.
In his own words, Rep. Harding wishes to “prevent school districts from adopting policies that keep information away from parents”.
That information does not center around curriculum or academic performance. Instead, the intent of Harding’s original bill is to ensure that schools disclose all information about a child’s wellbeing to a parent, including discussions of gender or sexual identity.
According to Tampa’s News Channel 8, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis supports the move to out LGBTQ+ children.
“To keep parents out in the dark is something I don’t think works very well,” DeSantis reportedly said.
Floridians rally against anti-LGBTQ+ laws moving through the state legislature
LGBTQ+ rights groups, students and parents across the state have rallied in opposition to the amendment and the bill as a whole.
Many argue that the push to eliminate instruction from the classroom that highlights diversity in gender identity or sexuality is damaging to Florida’s youth.
Chasten Buttigieg, husband to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, wrote in a Tweet that the legislation “will kill kids”.
“Forty-two percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year,” he Tweeted. “Now they can’t talk to their teachers?”
Concern around this topic extends beyond the state’s adults. Many students across the state of Florida are also speaking up against the legislation.
In an interview with NBC news, one young Florida fifth grader, Cooper Solomon, spoke up in defense of his LGBTQ+ classmates.
“I guess back then, a long time ago, they didn’t accept this, and they thought it was really bad,” he said. “I would just like [lawmakers] to know that it’s OK to be like this, and it’s not going to hurt anyone.”
Even without “mandatory outing” amendment, bill still outlaws most direct instruction about LGBTQ people and topics.
When asked directly by other lawmakers about the scope of his bill, Rep. Harding said the bill focused on “instruction”.
Sydney Persing, a reporter with WINK news, outlined how the bill would affect students and teachers in the classroom.
“The measure allows those kids to talk about their parents being gay,” Persing said. It still allows them to write papers about their parents being gay. But the schools, by no means, can teach anyone about anyone being gay.”
In grades K-3, the bill prohibits any and all instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity. In all other grades, the state would have to deem the instruction “developmentally appropriate”.
While a school could have books with LGBTQ+ characters or topics available in the library, teachers could not include those books as a part of their instruction.
The legislation gives any parent the ability to sue a district, school or teacher they feel violates this law.
The bill will to go to a full vote of the Florida House of Representatives on Thursday of this week.