Respect Diversity + Inclusion

Amendment in Florida bill to ‘out’ students is withdrawn

Story at a glance

  • Florida Rep. Joe Harding (R) on Tuesday withdrew an amendment to his “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would have made school officials responsible for informing a student’s parents of their sexual orientation within six weeks.
  • Harding had introduced the amendment Friday and withdrew it Tuesday before a House question and answer session.
  • A House vote on “Don’t Say Gay” is likely Thursday.

Florida state Rep. Joe Harding (R) on Tuesday withdrew an amendment to his Parental Rights in Education act — known to its critics as “Don’t Say Gay” — that would have required school principals to inform a student’s parents of their sexual orientation within six weeks of learning they were not straight.

Harding had introduced the amendment Friday and removed it just before a House question and answer session on Tuesday. The amendment had instructed school principals “to develop a plan, using all available governmental resources, to disclose such information within 6 weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent.”

Another still-existing amendment to the bill recognizes the potential risks of outing students to their parents and allows students to sue the state Department of Education for “irreparable harm” caused by the disclosure of their sexual orientation. A court may award damages.

Under Harding’s House bill, as well as its accompanying Senate bill, Florida educators would be barred from speaking to primary school students about certain LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”. 


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Parents would also be given greater authority to take legal action against school districts if they believe them to be in violation.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signaled support for the bill, which the House could vote on as soon as Thursday.

DeSantis earlier this month said it was “entirely inappropriate” for teachers to talk to their students about their gender identity, claiming children are being told “don’t worry, don’t pick your gender yet.” He later added that he doesn’t think this is happening “in large numbers.”

But “Don’t Say Gay” has been condemned by LGBTQ+ advocates, who say the bill — and others like it — has little to do with parental rights and everything to do with LGBTQ+ erasure.

“We are seeing entire chapters of textbooks being erased,” Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at the Trevor Project, told Changing America last week. “Do you not talk in a civics class about Pete Buttigeig? Do you not talk in a history class about Harvey Milk or Marsha P. Johnson? These are fundamental moments, not just in LGBTQ history, but in American history, that are being written out of existence.”

Public figures like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten Buttigieg have said the bill would make Florida a more hostile place for LGBTQ+ youth, who already face higher rates of mental health issues and suicide. Actress Kerry Washington has said she is “horrified by what is happening in Florida”.

The White House last week weighed in on the bill, with President Biden denouncing it as “hateful,” and press secretary Jen Psaki accusing conservative politicians of targeting LGBTQ+ youth.

“Make no mistake, this is not an isolated action in Florida,” Psaki said in a briefing earlier this month. “Across the country, we’re seeing Republican leaders taking action to regulate what students can or cannot read, what they can or cannot learn, and most troubling, who they can or cannot be. This is who these kids are, and these legislators are trying to make it harder for them to be who they are.”


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