Last Friday, the Florida House approved an education bill that limits how teachers and students use their pronouns in K-12 schools.
The bill (FL HB1069) required that school employees are not allowed to ask students to provide their preferred pronouns. According to the bill, it would be “false to ascribe” someone with a pronoun that “does not correspond to such person’s sex.”
In 2022, Florida passed a law called the Parental Rights in Education bill, which prohibits teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade. The bill was known as the “Don’t Say Gay” Law and was considered to be one of the most controversial laws that passed in 2022.
One year later, the Department of Education in Florida is considering expanding the "Don't Say Gay" law to include 12th-grade students. The proposal also aims to increase the limitations on classroom education concerning topics pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to data from the Movement Advancement Project, Florida has both low gender identity policies and low sexual orientation policies because of the existence of several negative laws on LGBTQ Youth.
The school climate in Florida is not friendly to LGBTQ+ students. GLSEN 2021 National School Climate Survey, conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network shows that many LGBTQ+ students in Florida faced limitations on their ability to express themselves in relation to their LGBTQ+ identity in 2021. Around 27% of LGBTQ+ students in Florida were subject to disciplinary measures for engaging in public displays of affection (PDA), while non-LGBTQ+ students did not receive similar disciplinary measures. Additionally, 18% of LGBTQ+ students were barred from discussing or writing about LGBTQ+ topics in extracurricular activities.
During the voting on the bill, a group of LGBTQ advocates protested outside the House chamber and expressed their opposition to Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican lawmakers who supported the expansion of parental rights.
Florida Democrats have also stood with them and opposed the legislation, asserting that the policies amount to sex discrimination and disrespect LGBTQ+ students and their families. They further argued that the bill disregards the rights of parents who support their LGBTQ+ children for the sake of others.
In conclusion, Florida's education bill restricting the use of preferred pronouns in K-12 schools has sparked controversy among LGBTQ advocates and Democrats, who argue that it amounts to sex discrimination and disregards the rights of supportive parents. The proposal to expand the "Don't Say Gay" law to include 12th-grade students and limit classroom education on sexual orientation and gender identity is set for a public hearing on April 19.
Edited By: Kyenila Taylor
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