At the midpoint of the 60-day legislative session, Republican lawmakers, who have supermajorities in the House and Senate, appear set to keep their foot on the gas as the chambers continue racing through high-profile bills.
The House on Friday took a step toward expanding a controversial 2022 law that prohibits instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades, by approving a bill that would broaden the prohibition to pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
The measure (HB 1069) would expand the law formally titled Parental Rights in Education, which critics disparagingly labeled the “don’t say gay” measure. The law currently bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.
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The wide-ranging bill also seeks to restrict the way teachers and students can use their preferred pronouns in schools, and bolsters a process for people to object to instructional materials and school-library books.
Rep. Chase Tramont, R-Port Orange, said the bill is “pro-family, it is pro-teacher, it is pro-education.”
“It is pro-family because it takes some of the most-sensitive and personal issues and discussions and it keeps them in the homes where it is the responsibility of the parent to determine the manner in which, and frankly the timing in which, some of these issues and conversations should be taking place,” Tramont said.
But Democrats blasted the effort to expand the 2022 law.
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“Look, the LGBTQ community isn’t going away, trans people aren’t going away. What has gone away, that I pray comes back, is human decency,” Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville, said.
Rep. Marie Woodson, D-Hollywood, argued that the “expansion of the original ‘don’t say gay’ bill will continue to cause confusion, fear and even more problems than we had with the original bill.”
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