Respect Diversity + Inclusion

Florida Senate bill could ban books with LGBTQ+ characters from schools

Story at a glance

  • A Florida Senate committee this week passed a bill some say would clear a path for parents to more directly challenge LGBTQ+ books in schools.
  • The bill was passed Tuesday by the state Senate Education Committee largely along party lines.
  • The bill’s passage comes as a Florida House committee last week passed the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would bar educators from talking about certain LGBTQ+ topics or people in school.

A Florida Senate committee this week advanced a bill to establish new review procedures for materials used in public schools and libraries. While proponents of the bill say it will create greater transparency, opponents claim the bill will enable parents of students to more easily challenge LGBTQ+ books in classrooms.

The bill, proposed by state Sen. Joe Gruters (R), would make school districts responsible for ensuring content in school libraries serves an educational purpose and meets state standards. Among other things, it would create a process for parents to object to materials provided to children in public schools.

The bill was passed Tuesday by the state Senate Education Committee largely along party lines.

Gruters maintained during the committee meeting that the intention of the bill was not to erase things like LGBTQ+ topics in schools, but to simply give parents a better understanding of what their children are being taught.


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“The purpose of this bill is about transparency,” Gruters, who chairs the state Senate Education Committee, said Tuesday, “not to censor anything.”

Speaking at the meeting, one parent, reading from a copy of Theresa Thorn’s “It Feels Good To Be Yourself,” which features young characters of varying gender identities, said similar titles would confuse children about their own gender identities.

Using gender-neutral “they/them” pronouns would make some students believe they are more than one person, the parent said.

Another speaker, Brenda Farm, an attorney from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said she knew a child who saw a film with two gay men in school and returned home “traumatized” because he believed he would be forced to marry another man when he grew up.

Democrats during the committee meeting pushed back against some claims, calling them outright lies. Others explained that media like books and movies cannot alter or influence an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“There was no book that I read that brought me to who I am,” Sen. Shevrin Jones (D), Florida’s first openly gay state senator, said Tuesday.

A Florida House committee last week passed a bill colloquially known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which seeks to bar educators in Florida from talking about LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

A nearly identical bill was introduced early last week in the state Senate.


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