A measure that forbids teachers from discussing certain sexual orientation topics with elementary school students on grounds that those topics are age-inappropriate is now on its way to the floor of the Florida Senate.
Officially filed as the Parental Rights In Education Bill, HB 1557, the legislation also allows parents to take certain legal action against school districts that they believe are in violation of the law.
The bill has long been opposed by LGBTQ advocacy groups who claim that the legislation will further discrimination and bullying against members of the LGBTQ and result in an increase in suicide attempts among LGBTQ students.
“LGBTQ students and families deserve to see themselves reflected in the classroom, said Amit Paley, executive director and CEO of the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and mental health organization for LGBTQ young people. “What they don’t deserve is stigma and censorship from the government.”
Meanwhile, the sponsor of a companion measure SB 1834 State Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) said the legislation does not “demonize” anyone.
“This does one simple thing – it decides who’s in charge,” he said. “I’m not trying to demonize anybody, I’m not trying to negate the values of teachers. I’m just trying to come back to center point. Parents must be in charge of these decisions.”
On Feb. 24, HB 1557 was passed by the Florida House of Representatives by a 69 to 47 margin.
It was approved by the Florida Senate’s Appropriations Committee on Feb. 28 by a vote of 12-8.
HB 1557 now moves to the floor of the Florida Senate for a full vote.
If passed and signed into law, HB 1557 would become effective on July 1.