JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The GOP-led Florida HB 1577 "Parental Rights in Education" bill was signed into law. To Gov. Ron DeSantis, the controversial bill, also known to critics as the "Don't Say Gay," is about protecting parents' rights.
"Parents have a right to be involved," DeSantis said. "We insist that parents have a right to be involved."
In about three months, instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity will be banned in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. After the third grade, the bill requires the conversations be age-appropriate. Florida Republicans described 2022 as "the year of the parent."
"Legislators like Gov. DeSantis and Republicans across the state are saying 'no.' The power's with the parents, and that's a fact," said Julia Friedland, communications director for the Republican National Committee in Florida.
Democrats, however, such as Florida Representative Tracie Davis from Jacksonville, said the newly signed law "erases the lives of LGBTQ Floridians." First Coast News also talked to a local elementary school teacher who wanted to go by Ms. Harris. Harris mentioned how she was not surprised the bill was signed into law.
"I think educators need to keep doing what they're doing in the classroom and making sure students feel loved and represented."
Harris is worried this legislation will have a negative effect on her students' mental health and self-worth. She's had students who identify as part of the LGBTQ community.
"Parents, those are your babies," Harris added. "They're yours to raise and take care of. But, on the flip side of that, they spend 40-plus hours a week at school."
Another concern she has is if the student has questions, but they're not ready to discuss it with parents. Harris said she doesn't want conversations left unspoken. To the elementary school teacher, it "does more damage in the end."