An expansion of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law has passed the state senate and is heading to Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk for a signature.
The expansion breezed through the Senate with a vote of 27-12 and is expected to be signed by the governor.
The state legislature passed the original Parental Rights in Education bill, or HB 1557, in March 2022.
Under the policy, teachers cannot provide lessons on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to elementary school-age children in third grade or younger. Teachers are prohibited from discussing the topics “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The law has been nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay” by opponents, despite the word “gay” not appearing in the text at all.
The law currently applies to public school instruction up to third grade, but under the expansion, it will prohibit this type of instruction through eighth grade. It will now also include charter schools and private pre-kindergarten.
In addition to expanding the grades that the law applies to, the bill states that “it shall be the policy of every public K-12 educational institution that is provided or authorized by the Constitution and laws of Florida that a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”
It will also make it easier to have age-inappropriate books removed from school library shelves.
Under the law, anyone in any county can challenge a book’s content for any reason. The book must then be immediately pulled for a review.
“This bill promotes parental rights, transparency, and state standards in Florida schools. It requires that lessons for Florida’s students are age-appropriate, focused on education, and free from sexualization and indoctrination,” state Rep. Adam Anderson previously said in a statement about the legislation.
The State Board of Education has already voted to ban instruction involving sexual orientation and sexual identity across all grades.
Liberal activist organizations have strongly condemned the expansion.
“The Don’t Say LGBTQ law has already caused sweeping damage across our state,” said Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida’s public policy director, according to a report from The Hill. “It was wrong when it was adopted, and expanding it is wrong now.”