Last week, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R) stated that she is considering a proposal to expand the state’s Parental Rights in Education law to include middle schools, WKMG-TV reported.
The Parental Rights in Education Act, also misleadingly dubbed by critics the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) in March. It restricts schools from teaching kindergarteners through third-graders about sexually charged topics. The bill also prevents schools from restricting parents’ access to information about their children’s education or health.
“I am a parent. Of course, my kids are older, but I want to know what is going on in schools, and I want to be able to be consulted,” Passidomo told WKMG. “The schools are not supposed to be raising our kids. It should be the parents, and that is really what the intent of the bill was. They should be able to object to things that they object to.”
Passidomo stated that she would support a proposal to expand the bill to prevent the topics from being taught to middle school students, citing children’s maturity levels. However, Passidomo noted that she would not support banning educators from teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity to high school students.
“The one thing that I think could be looked at is (that) we ended it at grades one through three. I don’t think I’d be supportive of high school because kids in high school are hopefully a little bit more mature, at least, they should be,” Passidomo continued. “But, you know, the middle school, maybe going to sixth grade or something like that.”
According to Passidomo, the language in the bill allows for reconsideration of the existing curriculum based on what the legislature considers age-appropriate. She noted that parents, not schools, should address topics involving gender identity and sexual orientation with their children.
Former Florida state Senator Audrey Gibson (D) told WJXT that Passidomo’s support of the proposal would “ostracize” students based on their gender identification.
“It’s just wrong. And the bill continues to create division,” Gibson argued. “I just want to make sure that people understand the fallacy of grooming or impacting a young person to be a male or female or not. That is so far from the truth.”