The Florida House passed a bill Friday that would curtail the use of preferred pronouns amongst students and teachers that “do not correspond” with their sex.
“It shall be the policy of every public K-12 educational institution that is provided or authorized by the Constitution and laws of Florida 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,” the bill (known as HB 1069) asserts.
The vote on Friday was split virtually along party lines, with only two Republican dissensions coming from representatives Demi Busatta Cabrera and Will Robinson.
“For those who think our schools should be some sort of social justice experiment, I challenge you this: I don’t agree with any of it, but when 100 percent of our children are proficient in reading, and 100 percent of our children are proficient in math, then there is time for all of this silliness,” Republican state representative Randy Fine told Politico. “You want to know what hurts children? It’s the fact that they can’t read, it’s the fact that they can’t do math.”
However, Democratic state representative Ashley Gantt of Miami condemned the bill as exclusionary.
“In this body, our duty to our constituents is to make sure that every single constituent is seen and heard in our legislation. And this bill does nothing but tell certain parts of our community in Florida that they don’t exist,” Gantt told Politico.
HB 1069 builds upon the Parental Rights in Education Act passed by Republican governor Ron DeSantis in March 2022 seeking to prohibit classroom instruction on topics such as gender identity and sexual orientation for those in grade three and under.
A new proposed update to the legislation in late March, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is seeking to expand the policy to students between grades four and twelve except when “expressly required by state academic standards,” the amendment notes.
“Parents have the right and God-given responsibility to guide their children’s upbringing,” Republican Clay Yarborough, the bill’s legislative sponsor in the Senate, said during a committee hearing on Monday.
“They should not have to worry their students are receiving classroom instruction on topics and materials parents feel are not age-appropriate,” Yarborough added.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denounced the amendment during a March briefing calling it “completely, utterly wrong,” declaring it to be “part of a disturbing and dangerous trend that we’re seeing across the nation.”
The recent House bill also adds streamlines the removal of content flagged as pornographic or sexual in nature.
“The problem with this bill is that there are no common-sense guardrails. Number one, anyone can pull a book. They don’t even have to live in the state of Florida. They don’t have to be a parent. They just can say, ‘I don’t like that book,’ and they get to pull it,” Democratic state representative Robin Bartleman told Orlando Weekly.
However, Republican representative Chase Tramont insisted that the legislation was “pro-family . . . pro-teacher . . . [and] pro-education.”