South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Skyler Swisher | February 28, 2023
A state representative wants to expand last year’s controversial Parental Rights in Education law to the eighth grade, setting up another culture war clash over what critics labeled “don’t say gay.”
Rep. Adam Anderson, R-Palm Harbor, filed a bill Tuesday that also would forbid public schools from using pronouns that align with a transgender student’s gender identity.
The measure would prohibit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for grades kindergarten through eighth, instead of third grade as the original law mandates. The proposal (HB 1223) also adds pre-kindergarten, including private programs, and charter schools to the law.
Anderson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. A spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis also did not immediately respond to an inquiry into whether he supports Anderson’s bill.
DeSantis championed last year’s law, which received national attention and proved to be one of the most contentious of the session.
Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy group, issued a statement condemning the latest bill.
“This legislation is about a fake moral panic, cooked up by Gov. DeSantis to demonize LGBTQ people for his own political career,” said Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida’s public policy director. “Gov. DeSantis and the lawmakers following him are hellbent on policing language, curriculum, and culture. Free states don’t ban books or people.”
The bill mandates that “an employee or contractor of a public K-12 educational institution may not provide to a student his or her preferred personal title or pronouns if such preferred personal title or pronouns do not correspond to his or her sex.”
It also specifies that it “shall be the policy of every public K-12 educational institution … 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.”
In December, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo told reporters she would be open to expanding the Parental Rights in Education law to include additional grades up to high school.
Lawmakers kick off their 60-day session on Tuesday.