TALLAHASSEE, Florida (LifeSiteNews) — The Florida Senate passed a much-anticipated piece of legislation to protect young children from being taught about radical sexual concepts like transgenderism and gender identity.
Florida’s Republican-dominated Senate passed SB 1834 in a 22-17 vote on Tuesday. The proposed legislation has now gone to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ desk for a signature.
DeSantis, who has frequently spoken out in defense of the proposed legislation and hit back at critics who have roundly attacked the measure as an assault on free speech, is expected to sign the proposal into law.
Known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, SB 1834 would ban schools in Florida from teaching young children in kindergarten through third grade about transgenderism and other sexuality-related issues, limit discussions about sexuality for older children to “age appropriate” content, and require educators to inform parents of any changes that could affect their child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being.
BREAKING: The Florida legislature has passed the Parental Rights in Education Bill that bans teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to preK through 3rd graders and prevents schools from withholding info about a child’s mental health to parents.
— American Principles 🇺🇸 (@approject) March 8, 2022
According to the text of the bill, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The bill further states that “school district personnel may not discourage or prohibit parental notification of and involvement in critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,” including the adoption of a new “gender identity.”
The proposed legislation has generated strong support from many Republicans, who have argued that schools should not be instructing young children about radical sexual ideology.
Meanwhile, critics have argued SB 1834 violates freedom of speech, characterizing the proposal as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, regardless of the fact that it does not prohibit use of the word.
“There is a willingness, and even eagerness, to bring the weight and power of government to bear on controlling classroom speech,” wrote PEN America in a statement decrying the proposal. “And as is always the case in such times, students will be the ones to pay the price.”
It’s unclear how barring teachers from educating young children about sexual practices and alleged “identities” would harm them.
Republican Senator Danny Burgess told NBC News that the bill reasserts the right of parents above school administrators with regard to their children.
“This bill says parents your right to raise your children does not end when they walk into a classroom. This bill recognizes that parents are not the enemy,” Burgess said.
“The bill simply says that there should be an age limit on certain discussions. It’s not a new concept, nor is it radical,” he added.
Jon Schweppe, director of policy at the American Principles Project, told The Daily Wire that Florida’s proposed legislation is “about respecting the rights of parents and protecting kids.”
“Parents shouldn’t have to fear sending their kids to public school in America, but they do because woke ideologues have become obsessed with teaching kids as young as five that they can change their gender,” Schweppe said.
For his part, Gov. DeSantis has also argued that the bill is focused on excluding “ideological” pursuits from the classroom, ensuring that traditional academic subjects remain the focus of public education.
“At the end of the day, you know, my goal is to educate kids on the subjects — math, reading, science — all the things that are so important,” DeSantis said last month. “I don’t want the schools to kind of be a playground for ideological disputes.”
This week, DeSantis snagged headlines for challenging a reporter who referred to the proposed legislation as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“Does it say that in the bill?” DeSantis asked during a Monday press conference, in response to a reporter who claimed that “critics” were saying SB 1834 prohibited use of the word “gay.”
“I’m asking you to tell me what’s in the bill, because you’re pushing false narratives,” DeSantis pushed back, adding, “It doesn’t matter what critics say.”
The Daily Citizen, the news arm of Focus on the Family, noted that Florida’s proposed legislation “would prevent situations like what happened to January Littlejohn, a licensed mental health counselor and stay-at-home mom in Florida.”
According to the outlet, Littlejohn said during a public comment session that after “weeks of going back and forth with the district,” the family finally learned their child’s school “had created a transgender, gender nonconforming support plan with our 13-year-old daughter without our knowledge or consent.”
If signed into law as anticipated, the Parental Rights in Education bill would prohibit school administrators and teachers from withholding information about a child’s mental health, well-being, and alleged “gender identity” from parents, as was allegedly done in Littlejohn’s case.
The bill would also allow parents like Littlejohn to sue schools for teaching young children about sexuality in violation of the law, or for withholding knowledge of a child’s alleged “gender identity.”