Legislator withdraws proposed amendment to Don't Say Gay Bill would force teachers to out LGBT kids


Legislator withdraws proposed amendment to Florida’s Don’t Say Gay Bill forcing teachers to out LGBT kids to their parents if the youngsters disclosed their sexuality in class

  • The amendment, proposed by Republican Rep. Joe Harding on Friday, was withdrawn from the controversial bill 
  • Republican lawmakers in the Sunshine State are working to pass a bill that bans discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in state public schools 
  • Opponents have dubbed it the Don’t Say Gay bill, and fear it would cause irreparable harm to LGBTQ kids’ mental health 
  • The original bill said that school official didn’t have to out kids to parents if there was a belief that being outed would lead to children being abused or abandoned 
  • The amendment would have gotten rid of that stipulation, requiring schools to let parents know if a kid comes out within six weeks 


An amendment proposed to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill that would have required schools to tell students’ families that they identified as LGBTQ within six weeks was pulled on Tuesday. 

The amendment, proposed by Republican Rep. Joe Harding on Friday, was withdrawn from the controversial bill that has been criticized by LGBTQ groups and President Joe Biden as ‘dangerous,’ ‘deeply bigoted’ and ‘hateful.’ 

Republican lawmakers in the Sunshine State are working to pass a bill that bans discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in state public schools from kindergarten through fifth grade. It also encourages parents to sue school districts that promote talking about such issues.

The GOP-controlled committee in the state Legislature approved the original version later Tuesday after the amendment was pulled. The bill now continues its way through the Florida State House, with a full floor vote in the chamber expected Thursday.

Opponents have dubbed it the Don’t Say Gay bill, and fear it will cause irreparable harm to LGBTQ kids’ mental health. 

Supporters gather for a Safe Schools South Florida & Friends rally to push back against the so-called 'Don't Say Gay' bill on Tuesday

Supporters gather for a Safe Schools South Florida & Friends rally to push back against the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill on Tuesday

Florida State Representative Joe Harding

Florida State Representative Joe Harding

Carlos G. Smith, Florida’s first LGBTQ Latino legislator, tweeted that the amendment ‘deliberately puts LGBTQ youth in harms’ way.’ 

The original bill says that school official didn’t have to out kids to parents if there was a belief that being outed would lead to children being abused or abandoned. 

The amendment would have gotten rid of that stipulation, requiring schools to let parents know if a kid comes out within six weeks.

The amendment claimed to be setting up a protocol to encourage a discussion between parents and students in a safe environment, but removed protections for students who would have potentially been subject to abuse, abandonment or neglect by their families. 

The White House went on the offensive against the bill in early February, slamming Florida Republican lawmakers and further fueling tensions between the Biden administration and Governor Ron DeSantis. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki weighed in on the legislation during a briefing shortly after the state legislature approved the measure.

‘Every parent, as one myself too, hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection and freedom, and today conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values,’ Psaki said at her daily briefing.   

Biden followed suit with a scathing rebuke on Tuesday evening.

President Joe Biden rebuked the bill himself, further fueling the divide between himself and Florida's Republican state leadership

President Joe Biden rebuked the bill himself, further fueling the divide between himself and Florida’s Republican state leadership

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled that he is willing to sign the bill into law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled that he is willing to sign the bill into law

‘I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,’ the president said.

‘I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.’ 

Detractors say the wording is vague and would lead to a chilling effect on all speech or instruction involving LGBTQ matters, while supporters warn that teachers may be ‘inculcating’ students with ideas their parents may not want them to be exposed to.

DeSantis has signaled that he would be willing to sign the bill if it came to his desk.  

Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma have similar laws currently on the books. 

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