Tallahassee, Fla. – Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Education Pre-K -12 voted to pass Senate Bill (SB 1320), a bill that would ban classroom discussions related to sexual orientation and gender identity in schools through the 8th grade. It would also ban such discussions in high school if the state deems them “inappropriate.”
The ACLU of Florida opposes this bill and its companion bill, House Bill 1223.
Kara Gross, ACLU of Florida’s legislative director and senior policy counsel, responded to today’s vote with the following:
“This extreme censorship bill is dangerously vague and overly broad. Its provisions will have a chilling effect on educators and students and silence support for LGBTQ+ youth.
SB 1320 will harm Florida students and families and deprive Floridians of learning about, reading about, teaching about, and talking about the very existence of LGBTQ individuals until the 9th grade.
“Under this bill, the state is literally dictating what can and cannot be taught and learned and read and discussed in Florida schools and is only allowing certain teaching and discussions that align with the Governor’s viewpoint.
“To be clear, this bill will prohibit teaching about or reading about LGBTQ historical figures, present day leaders, artists, writers, politicians, and icons until high school.
“Additionally, it will lead to more banned books in Florida, will keep Floridians ignorant about the larger world in which they exist, will cause more harm to already marginalized students and families who need and deserve our love and support, and will result in more bullying and self-harm.
“It expands upon and doubles down on the cruelty of last year’s Don’t Say LGBTQ bill, and is an extreme example of heavy-handed government overreach that is out of touch with the ideals and values of the majority of Floridians as well as the rest of the country.
“This bill has nothing to do with parents’ rights. Under this bill, if any county resident, regardless of whether they are a parent, let alone a parent of school-aged children — objects to a book it must be removed from the school until the objection is resolved. This bill grants enormous power to a single bigoted individual to dictate and control what books other parents’ kids have access to.
“Additionally, the title of the bill is disingenuous, deceptive, and misleading. This bill does not protect children in public schools, it intentionally harms LGBTQ+ children and children with LGBTQ+ parents and siblings.
“All Florida students and families deserve to be protected, respected, and embraced, and this bill does the opposite.”