MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill, known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, into law.
The signing took place at a preperatory school in Spring Hill.
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The law forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for older students.
The law says parents will be notified about health care offered at the school and they have the right to decline.
Parents will be able to sue districts over violations.
The legislation has drawn intense criticism from LGBTQ advocates, students, national Democrats, the White House, and the entertainment industry, amid increased attention on Florida as Republicans push culture war legislation and DeSantis ascends in the GOP as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
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Republican Rep. Joe Harding, who sponsored the measure, and other GOP lawmakers in Florida have argued that parents should be broaching these subjects with their children, rather than educators. It would not bar spontaneous discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools but instead is intended to prevent districts from integrating the subjects into official curriculum, Harding and supporters have said.
Some argue the bill is a moot point because sexuality is not a part of the K-3rd grade curriculum.
Critics argue the bill marginalizes LGBTQ people.
Democrats have said the bill’s language, particularly the phrases “classroom instruction” and “age appropriate,” could be interpreted broadly enough that discussion in any grade could trigger lawsuits from parents and therefore could create a classroom atmosphere where teachers would avoid the subjects.
Statewide, the bill has sparked a swell of protests and student walkouts.
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The White House, which has sparred frequently with DeSantis over a wide range of policy, had previously criticized the measure and President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has called it “hateful.”