Florida’s Parental Rights in Education legislation, labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents, recently passed the state House of Representatives in a 67-46 vote. Activists are depicting the bill as bigoted and evil and encouraged a student walkout to protest it.
Yet it does not appear that many opponents have read the bill. If they had, they would see that it primarily addresses parental rights around services, surveys, and information pertaining to their children. The offending bill language focuses on classroom instruction in younger grades:
“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Parents, at least those from Generation X or older millennials, had a very different public-school experience than younger generations are getting. To these parents, it is common sense that classroom instruction regarding sex and human sexuality should not be given to children from ages five to eight; children at these ages have historically been protected from sexual content and outright political activism like gender ideology. The bill doesn’t say that those topics should never be addressed in schools, only that they should not be covered until grade four, and that they should be handled in an age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate manner.
Many parents believe that classroom teachers should not show young, impressionable children pictures that depict breast-binding or encourage physically altering their growing bodies. They don’t want children in early elementary grades to read books or use gender-coloring books encouraging them to disassociate their minds from their bodies, and to focus on sex and sexuality at such a young age. Young children don’t need to be shown a Blue’s Clues Pride Parade video celebrating transgenderism and pansexuality, or Queer Kid Stuff videos that train them to ask people for their pronouns, or be told that doctors are sometimes wrong when “assigning gender.” Children should not be instructed that there is no such thing as girls and boys. Lest this sound like an unlikely scenario: a lawsuit is being filed by a Canadian mother whose six-year-old daughter was taught “girls are not real, and boys are not real” at school.
Organizations like Gender Spectrum provide a steady stream of gender-ideology-themed professional development and classroom resources to schools across the United States. Teachers introduce materials such as the Genderbread Person to young children, pressuring them to choose from an array of gender identities and instructing them that the biological sex they were “coercively assigned at birth” is irrelevant. Schools are actively transitioning children, often middle school girls who are struggling emotionally as they’re starting puberty, and crafting Gender Support Plans designed to hide the child’s new name, pronouns, and emotional challenges from parents. It’s more than understandable that parents have asked legislators to curb such gender-ideology activism in schools.
In an era where teachers regularly seek out lesson plans on the Internet, rather than using an established curriculum, children are vulnerable to classroom materials created to fulfill a political agenda, rather than provide academically useful and age-appropriate instruction. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have taken advantage of this phenomenon by crafting sex-education lesson plans that encourage children to develop trans identities. Doing so is to the benefit of Planned Parenthood financially, as the organization provides opposite-sex hormones to transitioning children at over 500 clinics across the United States.
Parents peered over their children’s shoulders during Covid-era school closures and discovered classrooms awash in sexual and political content. They understandably want to reestablish appropriate boundaries around young children and redirect classroom content to academic instruction, rather than ideological advocacy.
The Florida parental rights legislation reminds school systems and activist teachers that parents, not state employees, are ultimately responsible for their children. It ensures that parents have access to their children’s health and education records, prohibits schools from withholding information from parents and supports “the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children.” And, yes, it also protects young children from being taught to focus on sexual and gender identities. The activists eager to erase biological sex, transition children, and encourage young children to discuss sexual topics may not like anyone impeding their agenda. Tough.