So-called 'Don't Say Gay' bill advances in Florida Legislature

What many are calling the "Don’t Say Gay" Bill is making progress through Florida’s Legislature.

Protests to the bill have taken place around Florida, with opponents saying it will harm LGBTQ students. The bill’s author argues it’s mainly about parental choice.

"The language is deeply bigoted, and it’s aimed directly at marginalized people," said Brandon Wolf from Equality Florida.

People are taking issue with part of the bill that reads, "A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students."

It would also allow parents to sue if a school broke the rule.

"These conversations that are sensitive, they have such mental impacts on young children, and so no one knows each individual child and how they’re going to react and how they handle situations better the parent," said Rep. Joe Harding, the bill’s author.

Harding, a Republican representing Florida's State House Dist. 22, said the bill is not intended to eliminate certain conversations or open schools up to frivolous lawsuits, but rather it is meant to give parents more input.

Still, opponents worry the language is too vague.

"Does that mean that OCPS [Orange County Public Schools], here where the Pulse Nightclub shooting took place, could no longer talk about Pulse because it might encourage a discussion about the people who were there?" asked Wolf, a survivor of the 2016 mass shooting.

A letter addressed to state lawmakers and jointly signed by the Orange County Public Schools superintendent and school board president expresses "particular concern" over discussions this session about LGBTQ students.

The letter states the district believes "education must cultivate acceptance and respect for everyone regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression."

There are two very similar bills, one in the Florida House and the other in the Florida Senate.

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