Florida House set to vote on controversial 'Don’t Say Gay' bill as early as Thursday

Florida lawmakers debated and proposed changes to what has been called the "Don’t Say Gay" bill on Tuesday.

The proposal would limit the way sexual orientation and gender identity are discussed in schools.  Bill sponsor Joe Harding, R-Williston, characterized the bill as being geared toward keeping parents informed about "critical decisions" involving their children at school. Parents would be able to sue school districts for violations of the bill. 

There were more than a dozen proposed amendments. All were denied or withdrawn except for one from Rep. Harding which would create another way for parents to challenge their schools without going to court.

Some opposed to the bill wanted to remove the language about gender identity or sexual orientation. Others wanted to send information home to parents to help them have discussions with their kids or to give students an option to sue if the proposed bill causes them harm.

"We would like to see this bill not exist," Rep. Anna Eskamani, D-Orlando, told FOX 35. "The reality is that this is creating more problems than solving them."

"We should be just teaching children and loving them and helping them get to the next stage," said Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, the bill’s Senate author. "They’ll have a lot of time to work through their feelings about everything."

While some are calling the bill homophobic and transphobic, Baxley tells FOX 35 News that parents should teach those topics, not teachers.

"All kids should be safe," Baxley said. "I don’t have a problem with that. But if you’re developing some kind of agenda of confirmation for a lifestyle that may or may not be the kind of direction that this family wants to move in, that’s a priority."

The bill will go before the Florida House for a vote on Thursday.  There could be more changes in the Florida Senate.

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