Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill may be the most widely known proposed state law in the country. That notoriety and even infamy in some circles are based on a misunderstanding of what the legislation says. Many parents today are apoplectic that the teacher ranks have been captured by the left and are aggressively pushing progressive social values. This legislation pushes back against that wave and is not founded upon bigotry.
No less than President Joe Biden issued a statement against the bill on a White House social media account, tweeting that the legislation was designed by Florida conservatives “to attack LGBTQI+ kids.” He was joined by a host of celebrities as well as, it seems, every gay and trans issue group and advocacy organization. Equality Florida, for instance, wrote that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was fast-tracking the bill “banning discussion of LGBTQ people or issues in classrooms. Help us stop the DeSantis Censorship and Surveillance State agenda.”
The bill has four key components, the last one procedural.
- The first section of the bill says schools must adopt procedures to inform parents if they see a change in a student’s “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.” And those procedures must be respectful of parents‘ fundamental rights to make decisions on the upbringing and control of their children. The law highlights a bright line, saying it “does not limit or alter any obligation … to report suspected abuse, abandonment, or neglect.” However, parents don’t want, for instance, children struggling with gender-identity issues to deal exclusively with their middle school teacher for advice and counsel on such a significant personal issue.
- “School district personnel may not discourage or prohibit parental notification of and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.” Once again, this is about who is responsible to guide and shape key decisions in a student’s life.
- “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.” This is the provision generating the Don’t Say Gay criticisms. If gender identity and sexual orientation are not a part of Florida’s approved curriculum, why would teachers address it? While this may seem strict, most parents agree with it, after finding out about the sexual messaging they have not reviewed and in many cases do not approve of being taught in classrooms.
- Finally, the bill says if a parent brings violations of the above to the authorities, courts must order school districts to pay “reasonable attorney fees and court costs to a parent who receives declaratory or injunctive relief.” This shows lawmakers mean business. It turns the law from a statement of policy goals to a real check on teachers and administrators.
What’s the motive for passing this legislation? Many not only accept transsexuals but also celebrate them. But is it bigotry for parents to want to make sure someone like that is not teaching two-year-olds about gender and genitals and enby (non-binary)? That’s what the new Florida legislation attempts to do. “Don’t Say Gay” is not the name of the legislation; it’s the name cleverly tagged to it by those who want to use the bill to burnish their victimization. Threats against gay and/or trans populations are great opportunities for those mobilized against them. When the inventory of true threats is low, the impetus to create or inflate others becomes overwhelming. Political and monetary gains accrue to the defenders, whether the threats are real or imagined.
Just Because It’s Not Evil Doesn’t Mean It’s Good
None of the above is to recommend the bill be added to Florida’s statute books. Even if LibertyNation.com allowed for such endorsements, it’s entirely unclear if the law is workable or good. It may be a poor attempt to stop teacher indoctrination and keep parents informed. What, for instance, constitutes changes in a student’s “emotional health” that schools must alert parents to? The law doesn’t specify, and teenagers are commonly regarded as exceptionally moody. Schools and teachers may be understandably skeptical, but name-calling concerned parents when the facts support no such judgment won’t help anyone, students least of all.
~ Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.