Florida House votes to extend controversial education law
The Florida House passed a wide-ranging education bill that would tighten restrictions on school lessons about sexual and gender identity.
Conservative lawmakers passed the bill in a 77-35 vote. It would restrict the use of preferred pronouns on school campuses and broaden restrictions on teaching about gender identity and sexuality to be in place through eighth grade. The current law limits lesson plans on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade.
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“For those who think our schools should be some sort of social justice experiment, I challenge you this: I don’t agree with any of it, but when 100% of our children are proficient in reading and 100% of our children are proficient in math, then there is time for all of this silliness,” state GOP Rep. Randy Fine told Politico.
“You want to know what hurts children? It’s the fact that they can’t read; it’s the fact that they can’t do math,” Fine said.
Other lawmakers said the discussion on gender and sexual identity should not take place in schools at all but should be something parents talk to their children about.
When it comes to the use of pronouns, the bill does not allow teachers to ask a student about their preferred pronoun and bans teachers from giving their own pronouns to students if it does not match their biological sex at birth.
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The new bill would also give parents more power to challenge classroom materials they consider pornographic or inappropriate, such as assigned reading. Schools would have five days to remove any book that is challenged and would be required to hold a meeting to determine whether the book is actually inappropriate.
The bill is now awaiting a vote in the state Senate, but it received a favorable recommendation from a committee earlier this month.