The Florida Parental Rights in Education bill that passed in its final Senate committee on March 1st, has been dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics and media. Notably, while many media outlets referred to HB 1557’s nickname as given by critics, Associated Press White House reporter Zeke Miller described HB 1557 as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill as official news. Florida’s decision has attracted the attention of President Joe Biden, who called it “hateful” in a tweet responding to the advancement of the bill.
The Chalkboard Review staff has taken the time to read the Parental Rights in Education bill—here is what we have found:
In the seven page bill, there exists no mention of banning the discussion of gender, as the media claims. There is only a requirement that it is appropriate to grade-level, and if healthcare services are affected, that the parent be notified.
The bill’s main focus is encouraging transparency between schools and parents, and providing appropriate coursework. No teachers or third-parties can conduct classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3, or in a manner not appropriate for grade level. The recent cases of curriculums recommending pornographic material at school districts and libraries across the nation in the name of “gender and identity” education provide proof that such a law is needed.
This bill does provide run of the mill provisions to protect students. It determined that if a “reasonably prudent” person believes that disclosing information will cause “abuse, abandonment, or neglect” this bill does not prohibit schools from withholding information, though the bill does require parental consent to healthcare services provided to their child, just as many schools request parental permission for medicines such as Tylenol or Advil. This is not a new concept.
When read through, the disparity between the text of the bill and the way it has been framed leaves us with two conclusions: either the media is entirely incompetent in its framing or is knowingly lying. Neither explanation is comforting.