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Florida House Passes Expansions to Parental Rights Bill

Florida’s House of Representatives Friday passed, by a 77-35 vote, expansions to the state’s parental rights law that will tighten restrictions on public school lessons on human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, and other related topics. 

HB 1069, sponsored by state Rep. Stan McClain, R-Ocala, would restrict public school instruction on human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, and related topics to grades 6 through 12 only, reports NBC Miami.

The legislation also targets how teachers and students can use preferred pronouns, as well as lessons on sexual identity and gender orientation, and contains language that says 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 with that person’s person’s biological sex. 

Florida conservatives say the bill is part of a push to stop “indoctrination” in schools and say that lessons about sexual identity and gender orientation should take place at home, rather than in the younger grades in the state’s schools. 

But Democrats speaking out agains the legislation say it discriminates against segments of Florida’s population, and have joined with the LGBTQ community in contending that the bill equals censorship and sex discrimination.

“‘In this body, our duty to our constituents is to make sure that every single constituent is seen and heard in our legislation,’ said state Rep. Ashley Gantt (D-Miami),” Politico Florida education reporter Andrew Atterbury reported on Twitter. “‘And this bill does nothing but tell certain parts of our community in Florida that they don’t exist.'”

The state Senate is considering similar legislation, with at least one additional committee planning a hearing before the bill moves on to the chamber’s floor. 

McClain has said that the bill’s intent is to make sex education across all of the state’s 67 school districts more uniform while providing more ways for parents to object to the educational materials they find to be inappropriate for their younger children, reports NBC Miami.  

The legislation also allows the state Department of Education to further scrutinize educational materials and comes as another bill, HB 1223, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law, is being sought for children in grades K-3.

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