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Cruel amendment to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill would force schools to out LGBT+ students

Maggie Baska February 21, 2022
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General view of atmosphere during the Miami Beach Pride Parade at Ocean Drive

General view of atmosphere during the Miami Beach Pride Parade at Ocean Drive on 19 September 2021 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Getty/Jason Koerner)

An amendment to Florida House Bill 1557, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, would force school officials to out LGBT+ students to their parents.

HB 1557, which passed through the House Judiciary Committee last week, would effectively ban school districts from encouraging “classroom instruction” on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The proposed legislation would impact students in “kindergarten through grade 3” or in discussion on LGBT+ issues in a manner that is not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students” in line with state standards.

Under HB 1557, school officials would not be able to “discourage or prohibit” notification on anything related to a “student’s mental, emotional or physical well-being” to the student’s parents. But school districts and personnel could withhold such information if a “reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment or neglect”.

However, a recent amendment – filed by the bill’s sponsor Representative Joe Harding – states that a school principal or “his or her designee shall develop a plan, using all available governmental resources, to disclose such information within 6 weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent”.

The amendment continues: “The plan must facilitate disclosure between the student and parent through an open dialogue in a safe, supportive, and judgment-free environment that respects the parent-child relationship and protects the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of the student.”

Florida representative Carlos Guillermo Smith flagged the amendment to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill on Twitter and declared it as a “STATE-MANDATED outing of LGBTQ students to parents”.

He also warned that the amendment to the reviled bill could have “devastating consequences” for queer youth.

“An amendment was just filed by the sponsor of [“Don’t Say Gay”] to make it even more dangerous for vulnerable kids with a STATE-MANDATED outing of LGBTQ students to parents, specifically in cases of abuse, abandonment + neglect,” Smith wrote.

He added: “This will have devastating consequences for our youth.”

Several other Florida lawmakers and LGBT+ advocates condemned the bill and the new amendment on Twitter.

LGBT+ rights advocates have slammed HB 1557 and its companion bill in the Florida Senate, SB 1834, as “dangerous” for seeking to prohibit discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.

President Joe Biden and the White House came out in support of the queer community and have rebuked Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Biden vowed in a statement on Twitter that his administration would fight the “hateful bill” to preserve the “protections and safety” the LGBT+ community deserves.

“I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community – especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill – to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,” Biden added.

The White House said in a post on Twitter that “conservative politicians” in Florida had pushed forward proposed legislation that was “designed to attack LGBTQI+ kids”.

PinkNews has contacted Joe Harding for comment.

More: Florida

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