Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in Spring Hill, Pasco County on Monday, March 28, 2022, to sign HB 1557- the Parental Rights in Education bill which has been misleadingly dubbed by numerous media outlets and celebrities as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.”
Accompanying DeSantis at the podium was Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls, Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran, and several students of the venue, Classical Preparatory School in Spring Hill.
DeSantis began by explaining the reasons for the bill, “The last couple of years have revealed to parents that they are being ignored increasingly across the country when it comes to their kids’ education. We have seen material embedded for very, very young children, classroom materials about sexuality, and “woke” gender ideology. We’ve seen libraries that have clearly inappropriate pornographic materials for very young kids, and we’ve seen services given to students without the consent or even knowledge of their parents.”
“We not only believe that parents have a right to be involved — we insist that parents have a right to be involved.”
The three-part bill will prohibit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexuality in grades K-3, and allow age-appropriate discussion in grades above. At the beginning of each year, parents will be notified of healthcare services offered by the school, with the right to decline any service offered. Finally, the bill requires parents’ permission before a questionnaire or health screening is given to students.
According to DeSantis, at least six Florida counties have active policies that aim to “cut parents out of decisions and to shield them from knowing about various forms of mental health services.” Broward, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Volusia, Sarasota, and Palm Beach counties were named.
Martin County has a “gender transition plan” that could be implemented without parental consent.
DeSantis addressed some recent media coverage of the bill, and called it “sloganeering.” “These people want to sexualize kindergarteners … If the people that hold up degenerates like Harvey Weinstein as some kind of exemplar … if those are the types of people that are opposing us on parents’ rights, I wear that like a badge of honor.”
“We will make sure that parents send their kids to school for an education, not an indoctrination.”
Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls called DeSantis “The boldest governor in the country for Florida families, Florida parents, and Florida children.”
January Littlejohn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and stay-at-home mom of three. She testified that her 13-year-old daughter informed her of a closed-door meeting at a Tallahassee middle school. During the meeting, the student was asked which bathroom she preferred to use, and discussed other gender-identity topics with the teen.
When Littlejohn called the school, she was told that she could not be given any information without the consent of her daughter. “When parents are excluded from critical decisions affecting a child’s health and wellbeing at school, it sends the message to children that their parents’ input and authority are no longer important.”
“Social transition is a medical and mental health intervention that can lead to significant decisions that can impact a child’s mental and physical wellbeing. Often social transition is the first step to medical transition, and schools are grossly under qualified to be taking these steps without parental involvement.”
Erin Lovely’s second-grade son told his family on Thanksgiving Day that his teacher read a book to his class, called, “Call me Max.”
The description of “Call Me Max” according to goodreads.com is: “When Max starts school, the teacher hesitates to call out the name on the attendance sheet. Something doesn’t seem to fit. Max lets her know the name he wants to be called by — a boy’s name. This begins Max’s journey as he makes new friends and reveals his feelings about his identity to his parents. Written with warmth and sensitivity by trans writer Kyle Lukoff, this book is a sweet and age-appropriate introduction to what it means to be transgender.”
Lovely’s son told his teacher that he thought the book was wrong. Eventually, he would be taught at home by his mother.
Under the new law, such materials will not be allowed in a second-grade classroom, and students in grades 4 and up will need parental consent before such topics are introduced.
Language in the law includes:
“The procedures must reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children by requiring school district personnel to encourage a student to discuss issues relating to his or her well-being with his or her parent or to facilitate discussion of the issue with the parent. The procedures may not prohibit parents from accessing any of their student’s education and health records created, maintained, or used by the school district …”
“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate [sic] or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The bill takes effect Jul 1, 2022.