A bill that would bring some tough subjects to public school curricula is one step closer to passing the Senate as of Monday afternoon.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday approved HB 519, a substitute for SB 1094 from Sen. Aaron Bean.
Appropriations is the final committee stop for the legislation.
The House product, which passed already, was sponsored by Rep. Clay Yarborough, a Republican from Jacksonville.
On a packed day-long agenda with nearly 100 bills, this piece of legislation had a short hearing, running under two minutes before the vote. But the legislation could be significant.
The bill requires “age and developmentally appropriate” instruction on the prevention of child sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking, topics that are among the most serious issues anywhere, but that today’s curriculum doesn’t fully address.
The legislation also mandates instruction on “abstinence and the consequences of teen pregnancy” for students in grade 6 and up, but not for younger students who would have no developmental rationale for this instruction yet.
These topics are currently not required in “required comprehensive health education instruction.” That said, teachers do get education on them via continuing education requirements imposed by the Florida Department of Education.
The bill would go into effect July 1. This means that districts would be compelled to react to the new guidance before the beginning of the 2021-22 academic year. The legislation may have a fiscal impact to some jurisdictions, according to the committee analysis provided ahead of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“For those school districts that do not already provide child abuse awareness instruction, there may be a cost associated with including this instruction in the required health education curriculum. The cost is indeterminate,” asserted the analysis.
House sponsor Yarborough said constituents told him about the need “for additional prevention efforts and greater awareness related to signs of child sexual abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking.”