Florida Senate committee advances bill restricting speech about gender and sexuality in schools

Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 7:45 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Florida Senate committee moved forward with a controversial bill Monday that would restrict speech about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.

Senate Bill 1320 is an expansion of the Parental Rights in Education law, dubbed by opponents the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Last year’s law prohibited classroom discussions about gender and sexuality for kindergarten through third grade students. This new proposed bill would expand those restrictions through 8th grade.

The bill prohibits teachers from asking students what their pronouns are. It also says teachers and students can’t be asked to refer to anyone by a pronoun that doesn’t correspond with their biological sex. So, if a student is transgender, that identity could not be acknowledged in the classroom.

The bill also says that, as part of health education, schools should teach “the benefits of monogamous, heterosexual marriage,” and also teach that the male and female reproductive roles are “binary, stable and unchangeable.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Clay Yarborough, said it’s about leaving these sensitive matters up to parents.

“I believe, which is why I put it in the bill that’s before you today, that parents of elementary and middle school students should decide what is appropriate related to these topics,” Yarborough said during Monday’s Education Pre-K through 12 committee meeting. “And so as we do with most pieces of legislation if not all, we try to strike a balance.”

Opponents say the bill is discriminatory.

“Whether or not this bill, passes LGBTQ people will exist,” Democratic Senator Shevrin Jones said. “Your children will have to learn how to coexist with those same individuals, period. So you can legislate this type of stuff all you want, it’s not going anywhere.”

Monday was the first of two committee hearings on this Senate bill. WCTV will continue to follow this legislation as it moves forward.