TALLAHASSEE – A proposal is making its way through the Florida Legislature that could restrict the teaching of LGBTQ+ subjects in schools.
The Parental Rights in Education bill, colloquially referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, has passed one House committee. A similar bill is making its way through the Florida Senate.
The bill would limit discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in schools and would keep teachers from talking about certain LGBTQ+ subjects.
That is a concern for Jimmy Midyette, a Jacksonville attorney who also works for Equality Florida. News4JAX asked him if he believes schools are an appropriate place to discuss these matters.
“I think that is because that’s what or how some students come in. I mean, students there are gay and trans(gender) in every classroom in Duval County, rather they come to terms with them self or come out at this point. They look to the adults to show the right behavior, and if adults can’t even confirm what they’re feeling or what they are, that’s a bad message to send to young people any age.” Midyette said.
In both bills, parents would be able to sue school systems for damages, should these topics come up in the classroom.
We have reached out to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Harding, R-Ocala, was not returned by publication.
In a previous statement, he said:
“This bill is about defending the most awesome responsibility a person can have: Being a parent.”
News4JAX also requested comment from other Jacksonville-area Republican state lawmakers. Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, responded, but said he was not familiar with the proposal and did not wish to comment.
Requests for comments were also made to several members of the Duval County School Board. News4JAX heard back from Board Member Lori Hershey, who said she needed time to learn about the bill before making a statement.
Midyette believes the reason it’s becoming an issue now is because it’s an election year.
“Not to be cynical, but we do have this election year and a lot of legislators are running for re-election,” Midyette said. “And at times they want to pick on their political enemies in order to score points with their base, and I suppose that may be what’s happening here.”
The bill continues to make its way through committees in the Florida House. Senate committees have yet to hear their version of the bill.