The sponsor of Florida's highly controversial and dangerous "Don't Say Gay" bill is doubling down on the "outing" provision of his legislation, which is expected to get a vote by the full House Tuesday.
GOP State Rep Joe Harding has added a proposed amendment to his own bill, Florida Politics reports. Harding is a freshman lawmaker who has no background in education, child development, or LGBTQ issues.
Currently, HB 1557 says teachers, administrators, and other staff must contact parents about a student's “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, or a change in related services or monitoring.” Meaning schools must tell parents if their child comes out as LGBTQ at school.
If they don't, the bill says, parents can sue.
There is currently one provision to protect at-risk children, schools can opt to not inform parents, “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”
Of those who seek help, 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ, often as a direct result of coming out or being outed to their parents.
Rep. Harding would like to ensure that either parents are told their child has come out as LGBTQ, or – according to his new amendment – if the school has determined they should not be told because "a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect," the parents within six weeks of not being told must be notified that the school has withheld information from them.
Not only will that put some children at great risk, but it will also put school officials at risk.
The amendment says school officials must devise a "plan" to tell parents while protecting the child's well-being, but does not give them any indication of what that would look like, or how to avoid likely hostility to the official and likely harm to the child.
Imagine this phone call:
"Hello, Mr. Jones, this is Principal Smith. We have information related to your child's mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being but have decided to not disclose that information to you. However, by law, we're required to inform you we are withholding this information. Have a nice day."