A bill increasing parental consent regarding sex ed awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ signature.
Current law allows parents to opt their child out of sex education and STD lessons by providing a written request to the school. The bill (HB 545) would strengthen parental notification requirements to require that school districts inform parents of the curriculum and materials on the district’s website homepage. The process must be explained to parents, giving them a chance to opt their children out.
St. Pete Beach Republican Rep. Linda Chaney, who filed the bill, originally sought to make sex ed an opt-in process. Parents would have signed a consent form for their children to get that education.
That change garnered bipartisan approval.
However, most Democrats ultimately voted against the measure in the House, where it passed 82-24. The Senate passed the measure 36-4, with four Democrats voting in opposition.
Parkland Rep. Christine Hunschofsky, one of the Democrats to vote yes, said she liked the measure because it increased transparency and gave parents choices.
“How do I know whether to opt in or out if I don’t even know the curriculum that is being taught,” she said in April.
During debate on the House floor, Jacksonville Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough argued much of the sex ed portion of the 5th grade textbook wouldn’t have been appropriate to show on the floor.
Chaney’s compromise measure didn’t satisfy several parents and groups looking for reform. Multiple organizations such as the Christian Family Coalition and Florida Citizens Alliance originally approved of the bill but spoke in opposition during the committee process. Those parents and organizations argued an opt-in clause was necessary to give parents the full authority as to whether their children receive instruction on sex education.
The bill also requires school boards to review and approve sex ed materials annually. School districts would also be required to notify parents of those annual meetings where the curriculum will be discussed and approved.
DeSantis has until June 18 to sign or veto the measure, which would take effect July 1.