Under the guise of “parental rights” and “student welfare” a Florida House committee has advanced legislation that would ban primary school discussion of LGBTQ people or topics, could require school officials to notify a parent if a student comes out as LGBTQ, bans schools from withholding that information from parents in many cases, and allows parents to sue if schools violate those policies.
Florida House Bill 1557, “Parental Rights in Education,” was advanced out of the Education and Employment Committee, The Tampa Bay Times reports. Its author, Rep. Joe Harding, the founder of a local lawn care company, was described by a local paper when he won his 2020 race as as “a supporter of anti-abortion legislation and the Second Amendment.”
The bill in part reads: “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida’s Public Policy Director, spoke out against the legislation Thursday:
Today, lawmakers moved forward a bill to ban discussion of LGBTQ people in schools. Our own Jon Harris Maurer had a powerful reply:\n\n"We're parents, students, & teachers. We are your brothers & sisters. Conversations about us aren't something dangerous that should be banned." pic.twitter.com/4vxM5dAxgV— Equality Florida (@Equality Florida) 1642712137
The bill must pass through one additional committee before being voted on by the full House.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), who is running for governor, weighed in:
HB 1557 & SB 1834 would ban all discussion of LGBTQ issues, history, people and more in the classroom.\n\nIt's a direct attack on our LGBTQ+ youth who already face higher risks of bullying and suicide. These bills are anti-history and go against creating safe learning environments.— Charlie Crist (@Charlie Crist) 1642779858
A call to Rep. Harding’s office was not returned.