GOP proposed amendment on LGBTQ instruction bill raises tensions among critics

Gay Rainbow Wall Florida Flag
Critics warn the amendment will further impact LGBTQ youth.

Democratic lawmakers and activists are decrying a proposed amendment they say would require schools to inform a parent of their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The amendment is among a slew lawmakers will consider Tuesday on a measure opponents are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The bill (HB 1557) seeks to closely regulate LGBTQ instruction and conversation in the classroom.

It would restrict primary schools from “encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity.” It also would allow parents to sue over alleged violations.

Levy County Republican Rep. Joe Harding is the bill sponsor. He also is sponsoring the amendment.

The current bill, as written, does not allow school policies to block personnel from notifying parents about their child’s “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, or a change in related services or monitoring.” However, the bill has an exception, allowing school personnel to decline to relay information to parents “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.”

Filed Friday, if passed, the amendment would seemingly require schools to inform parents within six weeks about such a decision to “withhold such information.” According to the proposed amendment, school staff must first consult with the principal prior to any sensitive conversations.

“The plan must facilitate disclosure between the student and parent through an open dialogue in a safe, supportive, and judgment-free environment that respects the parent-child relationship and protects the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of the student,” the amendment says.

Harding did not reply to a Sunday evening request for comment. Democratic lawmakers, however, are already raising concerns on social media, arguing the amendment would require school staff to “out” students to their parents.

“This will have devastating consequences for our youth,” warned Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

In a Twitter post, Smith cited data noting LGBTQ youth are four times as likely to consider suicide. Critics, including Smith, fear the proposal will further aggravate the community.

“Just when we thought it couldn’t get WORSE,” wrote Orlando Democratic Rep. Anna Eskamani.

The issue has gained national attention. President Joe Biden in February condemned the bill as “hateful.”

“I have your back, and my administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve,” Biden responded.

Republicans, though, dispute such assertions. Shortly after Biden’s remarks, Harding responded with a video countering White House talking points.

The video features White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s remarks and Harding’s counterpunch.

“The President and his team decided to distort the truth and outright lie about my bill that empowers parents,” Harding said.

The bill awaits full House consideration. Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley is the companion sponsor (SB 1834).

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


5 comments

  • comments

    February 21, 2022 at 10:11 am

    their is a spectrum but it sure is not humans

    • Frank W Elliott Jr

      February 21, 2022 at 2:12 pm

      What the hell is that supposed to mean?

  • klad

    February 21, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    So, you out these vulnerable kids to parents who may or in many circumstances may not be compassionate, opening these same kids to emotional and possibly physical violence. What next? Requiring these kids to go through some ‘christian’ torture therapy to ‘change’ them? How many suicides will be enough for you to stop this hate?

  • Frank W Elliott Jr

    February 21, 2022 at 2:13 pm

    Will the people who support this, please, go away and juggle some water moccasins?

  • Teiotokoneo Opettaja

    February 21, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Adolf Hitler used this tactic, analogously, for children to report on their parents to the Nazi government. So the Florida legislature is following closely in the infamous footsteps of the Adolf Hitler Youth Movement, in reverse, as espoused by his Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.
    The counter to this, should the motivated youth of Florida become enraged, is to loudly talk about gay sex subjects within the hearing of teachers and then overwhelm the system with reports, thus effectively hiding and obfuscating the intent of this bad law. The youth of today will not stand, hopefully, silent about this but instead rear up and condemn it as opposed to common sense among many other failings.

Comments are closed.


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