Gov. DeSantis signs ‘Parental Rights’ bill into law in face of loud opposition

Kendall Tietz, DCNF

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill into law on Monday.

The legislation, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, prohibits discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation in the state’s K-3 grades “or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

Parents also have the right to opt out of certain health services offered in public schools and schools are also not able to implement rules that prevent teachers from notifying parents about services for children regarding their physical, mental or emotional health with the exception of potential instances of child abuse.

Opponents of the law falsely claim that the it bans the word “gay” from the state’s public schools, framing it as an attack on the LGBTQ community. Critics including the White House, Democratic politicians, the mediaLGBTQ advocates and the entertainment industry have pushed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill narrative.

DeSantis has pushed back on reporters who have used the “Don’t Say Gay” slogan in their questioning about the legislation highlighting the fact that the word “gay” does not appear anywhere in the bill.

Over half of voters supported the provision in Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill “banning the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade,” according to a poll conducted by Politico and Morning Consult. Only 35% of Americans said they opposed the legislation despite pollsters’ use of “the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill” language in its survey questions.

The bill was introduced in response to alleged reports of teachers secretly “transitioning” young children, which included using new names and pronouns for students without parental consent, an issue that has prompted a public-interest law firm to initiate a massive lawsuit in December. One 12-year-old girl in the state reportedly attempted suicide after her school started referring to her as a boy and using male pronouns for her without her parent’s consent or knowledge.

Florida, which legislators have been advertising as “The Education State,” has deemed 2022 the “Year of the Parent.” The state has passed other legislation that strengthens parents’ education rights.

On Friday, DeSantis signed HB 1467 in law, which “requires school districts to be transparent in the selection of instructional materials, including library and reading materials,” according to a press release.

The legislation also allows parents to “object to materials they do not believe their children should utilize,” and “ensures curriculum and teacher professional development align with required instruction and state standards, including no CRT or Common Core.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT) holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet it teaches people to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.

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