What is law critics have dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay’?

ron desantis
Parental Rights in Education law signed Monday continues political divide

Despite spurring all the statewide debate, protests, backlash and responses, Florida has come under intense national scrutiny over legislation that critics have labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The controversial “Parental Rights in Education” (HB 1557), which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Monday, bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through the third grade. Republicans argue that parents should broach these subjects with children. Democrats have said the law demonizes LGBTQ people by excluding them from classroom lessons.

The law’s central language reads: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Parents would be able to sue districts over violations.

During his bill signing ceremony, DeSantis presented an example of what he considers inappropriate teaching material for the young students: A poster containing a drawing of “The Genderbread Person,” developed to help students learn about and distinguish between anatomical sex, gender expression, gender identity, sexual attraction and romantic attraction.

The graphic has been included in various anti-bullying training programs and offered as a resource by the Washington-based LGBTQ rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign and others.

“This is trying to sow doubt in kids about their gender identity,” DeSantis said. “It’s trying to say that they can be whatever they want to be. This is inappropriate for kindergarteners and first graders and second graders. Parents do not want this going on in their schools.”

DeSantis said the graphic was being used in Florida and other states.

Opponents of the law say banning lessons about gender identity and sexual orientation marginalizes LGBTQ people and their presence in society.

In that vein, they have labeled the measure the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Republicans have chafed at that phrasing, chiding advocacy groups and news outlets that have used it.

Critics of the law say its language — “classroom instruction,” “age appropriate” and “developmentally appropriate” — is overly broad and subject to interpretation. Consequently, teachers might opt to avoid the subjects entirely at all grade levels for fear of being sued, they say.

DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have waved off those concerns. Corcoran points to a section of the legislation that requires his agency to draw up additional guidelines.

“Now we can go and … work it out so people have that clear understanding,” Corcoran said. He said what passing the law did was to “set clear guardrails.”

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said the law is nothing more than a political wedge issue for Republicans. He notes that elementary schools, especially in kindergarten through third grade, do not teach these subjects.

A less-talked-about aspect of the law requires districts to notify parents of health care services offered in schools and give them the option to decline them.

Districts will also be required to notify parents if there is any change in a student’s mental, emotional or physical health monitoring.

Republicans have said the law is intended to keep parents informed of what children learn and are exposed to in schools. Under a similar rationale, DeSantis last week signed a bill that gives parents a say in what books schools can and can’t have in their libraries and requires elementary schools to provide a searchable list of every book available or used in instruction.

LGBTQ advocacy groups and Democrats have hinted at taking legal action but nothing has yet materialized.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on Monday said his agency “will be monitoring this law upon implementation to evaluate whether it violates federal civil rights law.” He said students or parents who believe they are experiencing discrimination in school can file complaints with federal officials.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press


  • Concerned Parent

    March 29, 2022 at 8:36 am

    Why does this only go to third grade? It should be more.

    • 🫰

      March 29, 2022 at 10:35 am

      What are you lot gonna do about it.

      One time in court and 💥 gone like thousands of republicans after covid did that thanos snap lol

      • just sayin

        March 29, 2022 at 2:42 pm

        “What are you lot gonna do about it?”

        (then references a comic book movie to describe an imaginary court victory for themselves)

  • Oh this is gonna be good

    March 29, 2022 at 11:49 am

    “sue districts over instruction”
    Lawyer: ma’am: why did you sue the district over the reading of the book “3 blind mice” since as you say: the mice are obviously an allegory for gay marriage?

    Republican Karan: the codes there in the words!

    • just sayin

      March 29, 2022 at 2:44 pm

      The party that currently can’t define what a woman is, mocking an imaginary Republican strawwoman’s interpretation of a fairy tale.

      Good luck in the midterms, y’all!

      • The kingdom

        March 29, 2022 at 5:40 pm

        “Cant define what a women is”

        Something republicans need to stay young.

        Sadly evidence shows that the most are over 70. Angry unable to make it work and the future is In doubt lol

  • Tjb

    March 29, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    Why does this law only make public school liable and not charter schools?

    • Inmates are Running the Asylum

      March 29, 2022 at 5:15 pm

      How about private, mostly Christian schools are using the voucher program – tax payer money – and the last time I looked, religion taught in schools is the definition of indoctrine. But God forbid someone mentioned it’s CRT and everyone flips out that it’s teaching indoctrine?

      Or the fact there were several large charter school systems that were effectively edging to bankrupt and got more or less bailed out by the local school systems (because they would have had to absorb the student body anyway)?

      No more vouchers. No party declarations on school board candidates (you know that is next).

      True indoctrine is being disguised as parents rights.

    • Look at em

      March 29, 2022 at 5:41 pm

      Do those people look like they use public school? Lol

Comments are closed.


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