TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A new controversial bill carried the third week of the legislative session into overtime, continuing to prove the explosive nature of this year’s lawmaking efforts.
Introduced to the Committee on Education Pre-K-12 by Senator Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville), SB 1320 would ban the use of preferred pronouns in schools. This would disallow teachers from providing or asking for preferred pronouns, solidifying the bill’s assertion that pronouns must correspond with biological sex.
“Parents have the right and God-given responsibility to guide their child’s upbringing, and the decision about when a certain topic is introduced to children belongs to parents,” Sen. Yarborough stated.
An extension of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, this year’s legislation would prohibit any teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation from Pre-K through eighth grade.
THE BILL IS… NOT STRICT ENOUGH?
The legislation’s support was echoed through a series of parents and family rights advocate groups, with many asking for more restrictions.
“Parents have the right to seek legal recourse. Without strong penalties, school districts will continue to thumb their noses,” Keith Flaugh, CEO of Florida’s Civil Alliance insisted, explaining his desire for more parental authority over schools that do not comply with the pronoun and identity provisions in the bill.
One mother explained how her daughter’s middle school allowed her to “socially transition” without the mother’s knowledge or consent. She pleaded that the clause to seek legal action against schools be put into the bill, as “gender dysphoria is a diagnosed mental health disorder.”
Not all agreed, as a dozen protesters came out against the bill, inciting a heated debate.
“This is discrimination,” Jonathan Webber, policy director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) Action Fund, stated, claiming that the bill was unconstitutional. He quoted Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch: “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that individual based on sex.”
Further opposing the bill was the ACLU of Florida, with a spokeswoman stating that this legislation is “a dangerously broad government censorship bill. This caters to the governor’s most extreme supporters, and intentionally harms LGBTQ kids and their families.”
Others came forward, with one advocate calling the bill “state-mandated bullying”.
“A SOCIAL AGENDA THAT SEEKS TO INDOCTRINATE YOUNG CHILDREN”
Sen. Yarborough disagreed with critics: “The dialogue today reiterates that every family is different, solidifying my belief that the place for instruction on orientation and gender identity is in the home, guided by the parents.”
“Florida parents are justified in their concerns about radical agendas, specifically targeting young children. We must take a strong stand for child safety, and against a troubling social agenda that seeks to indoctrinate young children and replace the role of parents,” Sen. Yarborough concluded.
Like its companion bill HB 1223, SB 1320 passed despite lengthy debate and will now advance to the Committee on Fiscal Policy.