In the 1980s and 1990s when I was in Florida’s closeted high school, gay discussions were a common topic in class. Gay discussions Men, anyway. This occurred during the darkest and most severe phase of the AIDS Crisis, when gay people were, by definition, considered a danger to public health.
Many of the comments and observations by students—some of which were obviously parroting what they were told at home—were deeply ignorant, even at a time when we were still learning how HIV was spread. One of my classmates decided that his country’s laws would prohibit the spread of HIV during a class exercise.
These conversations were not handled by teachers in large numbers, but I was smart enough to notice the disinterest some expressed. Back then, the school did not have many out-gay students. I would later discover that most of my classmates thought I was gay. Florida was notorious for sodomy back in the ’60s and it was illegal to recognize same-sex marriages.
Since then, times have seen a significant shift. Sodomy is legal and gay marriage is recognized in all 50 states (and supported by the vast majority of Americans—including Republicans). HIV still exists, but it has not been eradicated.However, it’s now possible to manage the virus.
This is all because I find it bizarre that a few lawmakers think people would like to go back to that period with a Florida law that would ban school discussion of LGBT issues. Somehow this part of the culture war is back, even though this part of the culture shift has been successful and is widely embraced and normalized—and that’s not going to change.
H.B. has been introduced in Florida by Republican legislators. H.B. 1557 is a Florida Republican law that restricts how teachers and schools can discuss LGBT topics with students. This bill allows school staff to disclose student information to parents even though they may not want it. It could expose kids who turn to school staff to get help with an issue that isn’t important to them. The bill allows parents, as well as lawyers, to sue for damages and compensation if schools violate the very vague guidelines.
It has been difficult to evaluate the details of this bill because of the culture war. It’s being described as a “Don’t Say Gay” bill—cultural shorthand for the types of bills introduced back in the ’80s and ’90s to try to stop LGBT issues from being discussed in the classroom. This description is a gross exaggeration. H.B. The text of 1557 doesn’t completely ban discussion about LGBT subjects in schools. This is the usual outrage-based responseThis makes it simple for the supporters of the bill to argue that this bill doesn’t concern censorship. It is about setting appropriate guidelines for school discussions.
This is what the actual text of the bill says.
The school district cannot encourage students to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms at the primary grade level or in any other way that isn’t age-appropriate for them.
While that sounds almost reasonable—it’s not unusual or weird to push education on sexual issues to secondary schooling—the second part of the sentence is oppressively vague. This bill doesn’t specify what type of conversation about sexual identity or orientation is appropriate at which age. This will be addressed by the Florida Department of Education through policies. It is important to note that the government bureaucrats will decide which lessons are taught for each child.
The next section in the bill is what explains the vagueness. very, very bad:
The parent of a student can bring an action against the school district in order to get a declaratory judgement that a practice or procedure within the school district violates this paragraph. The court can award damages to the parent and may also award reasonable attorney fees or court costs.
In reality, this bill will be used to make it easier for culture war organisations to file lawsuits against schools by using parents as proxies. Since there’s no objective way to measure “appropriateness”, any parent may decide how much discussion about sexual orientation is inappropriate and file a lawsuit, forcing schools into financial trouble.
It doesn’t matter if the school can show that it is appropriate to discuss LGBT issues in classrooms. Schools want to avoid this burden. It is important to not discuss LGBT issues in school. This is soft censorship through threats of litigations.
We are seeing the results of the culture war on whether or not critical race theory should be taught at schools. Critical race theory is any discussion that touches upon the topic of racism will be called it. Parents are complaining that their children don’t learn black history in schools.
It is clear that this bill allows for lawsuits. However, it does not mean that there are “appropriate” limits to be discussed. Not just controversial behavior, but dangerous and threatening ones should also be punished with law suits. This does not mean that parents should be invited to join the discussion, even though Republican Governor. Ron DeSantis supported the bill’s support. Inviting parents to the conversation would be acknowledging that different comfort levels can exist on this topic. Instead, this bill gives parents who are most conservative the power to veto discussions about school that others parents approve of.
It is worth noting, however that those who believe this is all about parent rights are the ones pushing for bills to criminalize gender-affirming practices for minors. These laws would totally override the parental decisions regarding how to take care of their children. This is the message: SomeIt is important that parents have their rights.
It is essential that people who are truly supportive of school choice and parental participation in education understand the bill. This bill will lead to similar terrible consequences to school districts or lawmakers removing books from schools libraries to address complaints by parents. Although parents have the right to have some control over their children’s education, this shouldn’t be taken away from them. Other people’s kids. H.B. The 1557 bill actually removes power from parents. If DeSantis was serious about parental rights, he would oppose this bill if it passed.