Tuesday's Florida Senate vote approved a bill that would ban "classroom discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity" at the state's primary schools. It was passed in the state House last month. Now, the measure is headed to the Republican Governor. Ron DeSantis has supported it in the past.
During Tuesday's debate, Sen. Annette Taddeo (a Democrat) stated that "this is going to endanger safety of our LGBTQ student and adolescents." "We won't stop until the state values all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation.
The Parental Rights In Education bill was passed in both legislative houses largely on party lines. This has fuelled the current American culture war. has placed students in its crosshairs with book bans, Pride Flag removals and bills targeted at LGBTQ youth. This measure caught the attention of international newspapers and Hollywood actors, as well as the White House.
The bill's supporters claim it allows parents to control their children's education. Opponents say it unfairly targets the LGBTQ Community.
"This bill recognizes that parents have the right to raise their children, and it does not stop when they enter a classroom. "This bill recognizes parents are not enemies," Republican Senator Danny Burgess stated before Tuesday's 22-17 vote. "The bill simply states that certain discussions should have an age limit. It's neither a novel idea nor radical.
"Classroom instruction by school personnel and third parties on sexual orientation/gender identity" is prohibited in kindergarten through third grades. The measure also bans "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity" in kindergarten through third grade. Critics say this could be extended to all grades. For alleged violations, parents can sue school districts.
Monday's emotional address to the Senate by Democrat Shevrin, Jones was the first openly-gay Florida state senator. He urged his fellow Democrats to reduce the bill's language so that instruction shouldn't be "intended for changing a student's gender orientation or gender identity."
He asked, referring to the shunning and name-calling he experienced as a gay man. Please, don't do any harm."
Jones' proposal amendment was rejected.
Florida's students staged school walksouts last week to protest the bill. They called it the latest state measure to restrict the rights of LGBTQ students.
Jack Petocz, a high school senior, stated that the language used by the bill's supporters and the rhetoric surrounding the bill "really shows what this bill is" and was trying to harm queer people like him. Petocz was the organizer of the statewide protests via social media. He told NBC News that he was suspended for distributing 200 Pride banners to the rally, despite being advised by his principal not to.
DeSantis is now in charge of the bill's fate. He indicated his support for it at least twice when he was questioned Monday by a reporter.
He said, "We're going make sure that parents can send their child to kindergarten without any of this stuff being injected into the school curriculum."
Miguel Cardona, Education Secretary, condemned Tuesday's bill in a statement. He stated that parents want to see leaders from all levels of government, including the states and districts, to help their children recover from the pandemic.
Cardona stated that Florida's leaders are prioritizing hateful bills that will hurt students who most need them. "The Department of Education made it clear that schools receiving federal funding must comply with federal civil rights laws, including Title IX's protections from discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. We stand with LGBTQ+ students across Florida and the nation and ask Florida leaders to ensure that all students are supported and protected.
The bill would be effective July 1 if DeSantis signed it.