United States: Florida passes bill restricting LGBTQ issues in schools | International

Ebonni Chrispin of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation speaks during a conference in opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill on February 2 in Tallahassee, Florida.AP

Florida teachers will not be able to speak freely with their young students about sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill popularly known as “Don’t say gay” was approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate on Tuesday, by 22 votes in favor and 17 against. The measure also allows parents to sue school districts if they feel their children have received inappropriate lessons. For the law to enter into force, the only thing missing is the signature of conservative Governor Ron DeSantis, who has already announced that he will promulgate it.

The bill, officially called the Parents’ Rights Bill, states that “teaching by school personnel or others about sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur from kindergarten through third grade.” [cuando los niños tienen entre ocho y nueve años] or in a manner that is not appropriate for the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards.”

The White House, Democratic lawmakers and LGBTQ+ rights organizations have criticized that the text does not specify what is meant by “age-appropriate” or “student development” and that it could be interpreted so subjectively that any degree of discussion on the subject could trigger a lawsuit by the parents for violating the future law. This risk, opponents of the project argue, could lead to educators not addressing the issue at all.

Once the regulation was approved in the state Senate, the US Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, said in a statement that “leaders in Florida are prioritizing hateful bills that harm some of the most needy students.” “The Department of Education has made it clear that all schools receiving federal funds must comply with federal civil rights law, including Title IX protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” he added. .

The text “sends a terrible message to our youth that there is something wrong with LGBTQ people, that there is something so dangerous or inappropriate in us that we have to ban and censor ourselves in the classroom,” said Democratic Congressman Carlos G. Smith, who is gay. The position of the Florida Republicans is that it is the parents who should address these issues with their children, not the teachers.

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