‘Don’t Say Gay’ expansion passes Florida Senate, ready for DeSantis’s signature

Protesters gathered for a sit-in outside the governor’s office
Protesters chant outside Gov. DeSantis's office, 'Don't Say Gay' expansion passes
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 8:04 PM EDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 8:14 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - There are just two days left in Florida’s 2023 legislative session, and lawmakers are making their final push on lingering legislation.

Among the measures is a controversial bill that would restrict conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. That bill, HB 1069, cleared its final hurdle Wednesday when the Senate passed it in a 27-12 vote. It expands the Parental Rights in Education law, what critics call the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law.

Opponents say the bill, now headed to the Governor’s desk, will make it difficult for LGBTQ+ students and teachers to share their identities in the classroom. The bill prohibits teachers from telling students their pronouns, if those pronouns don’t match the teacher’s sex assigned at birth. It also bans teachers from asking students what their pronouns are.

Last year’s Parental Rights in Education law prohibited classroom discussion about gender and sexuality for K-3rd grade‌ students. This new bill expands those restrictions through 8th grade. But this move is essentially symbolic. Just two weeks ago, the Florida Department of Education greenlit a proposal by DeSantis to expand the ban all the way through 12th grade. That proposal did not require legislative approval.

Democrats say they’re frustrated by what they see as an attempt to erase the LGBTQ+ community in Florida.

“If they want, for their own sanity, to change their clothes and be called a different pronoun or change their name, then we should let them, so that they can survive in this world,” Democrat Tina Polksy said during Wednesday’s debate. “Because we know the suicide rate for the trans community is sky high.”

Republicans argue the legislation isn’t intended to harm anyone.

“No one should be disrespected,” Clay Yarborough, the bill sponsor, said. “And the bill is not giving rise to someone being disrespected because you can love and respect someone as another human being without agreeing with every choice they make or every view they have.”

HB 1069 also outlines a process for parents to have materials removed from their child’s classroom if they find those materials inappropriate.

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