A Florida lawmaker thinks the so-called 'Don't Say Gay' bill doesn't go far enough — and is pitching a major expansion
A Florida GOP state representative filed a proposal expanding the state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill.
The bill, HB 1223, would prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity up to eighth grade.
Advocacy groups slammed the proposal, saying it polices schools and demonizes LGBTQ people.
Florida lawmakers will consider a major expansion to the state's controversial gender and education law — which critics have dubbed "Don't Say Gay" — that would target transgender and nonbinary students and ban schools from teaching about gender identity until high school.
The bill, HB 1223, would forbid "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity" from pre-K through eighth grade, and would expand the restriction to apply to private programs and charter schools.
HB 1223 would also require "every public K-12 educational institution" to acknowledge that "a person's sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person's sex."
If passed, the bill would bar teachers from calling students by pronouns that don't align with their sex at birth and students from asking for a teacher to use preferred pronouns. The legislation is among many that have been introduced as the Florida session prepares for its 60-day legislative season that begins March 7.
The bill's creator, GOP state Rep. Adam Anderson, said in a statement to Insider: "The appropriate time and place to have sexual orientation and gender identity conversations is at home between children and their parents, not in the classroom, and not on the public dime."
He told the Orlando Sentinel the bill would keep schools "free from sexualization and indoctrination," echoing the statements of Republican lawmakers across the country who have proposed and passed bills targeting LGBTQ people and education.
LGBTQ advocacy groups, such as Equality Florida, condemned the bill. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer said, "This legislation is about a fake moral panic, cooked up by Governor DeSantis to demonize LGBTQ people for his own political career."
It's not clear whether the bill could pass in its current form. DeSantis' office did not immediately respond when asked if the governor supported the bill. DeSantis, who is widely viewed as a 2024 contender for the Republican nomination for president, has indicated that he plans to expand the schools bill, formally known as the Parental Rights in Education Act.
While he has laid out policies on multiple issues, from immigration to tax reductions, he hasn't yet detailed his plans for school materials. DeSantis has argued that parents have a right to decide what subjects are taught in classrooms and accused liberals of trying to "indoctrinate" children with certain teachings on sex and race.
Nikki Haley, the former UN ambassador who has made a 2024 run formal, criticized DeSantis in February over the Parental Rights law, saying it should have gone further than third grade so as to align with sex ed classes that begin in seventh grade.
A staffer for Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told Insider in January that the state's legislature would consider expanding the provisions of the law to include fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.
DeSantis press secretary Bryan Griffin told the Daily Mail that the governor would "consider" such a measure if it were to reach his desk.
The original law, which DeSantis signed in February 2022, banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade and led to a national backlash from LGBTQ advocates and Democratic lawmakers.
Some Florida school boards have shown they're confused about how to follow the new rules about teachings, and some schools have removed books from their libraries while they review them. Critics have said they're worried about chilling the speech of LGBTQ teachers or parents, and about students being bullied or outed to families who don't accept them.
The "Don't Say Gay" law also sparked a feud between DeSantis and Disney — one of Florida's biggest private employers — which initially stayed silent about the law but later denounced it publicly under staff pressure, saying it would work to repeal the law or gut it in court.
DeSantis and Florida Republicans responded by stripping Disney of its special tax district and taking control of the area around Disney World.
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