New legislation filed in Florida could outlaw schools using pronouns based on gender identity in what critics see as an expansion of the state’s widely hated “don’t say gay” law.
Florida Rep. Adam Anderson, a Republican elected in 2022, filed a bill that purportedly sets policy relating to a person’s sex while at public K-12 education institutions. The bill defines sex as “binary” and says it must be treated by the state as an “immutable biological trait.”
And while supporters of last year’s “don’t say gay” law frequently stressed an outright prohibition on discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation only applied to classroom instruction in kindergarten through third grade, the new bill would expand that through grade 8, the end of middle school in most Florida district. It also extends the requirement back to pre-kindergarten.
State law would continue to require LGBTQ+ topics be addressed only in an age-appropriate way in ninth through 12th grade.
The bill also explicitly prohibits transgender, nonbinary, and other students from even providing personal pronouns if they do not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
The legislation would cover charter schools in the state, unlike the bill passed last year and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Critics immediately blasted the proposed expansion.
“Notice the bill title— Florida Republicans are doing more than simply retreating from their ‘Parental Rights’ message,” tweeted former state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat who lost a bid for reelection last year. “They’re revoking the rights of parents to allow their own transgender child a safe and healthy social transition in Florida public schools thru 12th grade.
“The consequences of Florida’s #DontSayGay law can be seen everywhere, and our most vulnerable kids are paying the price. Broad censorship and book banning, the removal of safe space stickers, and a decline in the overall well-being of LGBTQ students— which the state wants hidden.”
Equality Florida immediately condemned the bill.
“A bill has been filed to expand Florida's Don't Say LGBTQ law, doubling down on the governor's agenda of censorship that has already led to books being banned, Safe Space stickers being peeled from classroom windows, and refusals to recognize LGBTQ History Month,” the organization posted on social media.
“This legislation is about a fake moral panic, cooked up by Gov. DeSantis to demonize LGBTQ people for his own political career. Governor DeSantis and the lawmakers following him are hellbent on policing language, curriculum, and culture. Free states don’t ban books — or people.”