‘Don't Say Gay’ bill requires students to be ‘outed’

An amendment to a Florida bill sets a strict time frame within which teachers must tell on their LGBTQ students

A Florida bill barring educators from discussing topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity has gained an amendment that would require school staff like teachers or counselors to inform parents within six weeks of their child's sexual orientation if they learn a student is not straight. 

The bill has come under scrutiny and been dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by media outlets and pundits critical of the proposals, which would also give parents room to sue a primary school they believe is violating the order. 

The bill’s co-sponsor, Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, filed the new amendment on Friday. It requires that “the school principal or his or her designee shall 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.”

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An exception was previously offered in the legislation that would provide an exemption for some students being ‘outed’ to their parents if educators feared it could lead to abuse at home, local affiliate WFLA noted

State Rep. Charles G. Smith, who says on his Twitter that he is Florida’s “first LGBTQ Latino legislator,” said in a tweet blasting Harding’s amendment that it would have “devastating consequences for our youth.” 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has expressed support for the bill, and it will be facing a vote in the state House this week, along with multiple amendments, including Harding's, but many activist groups have publicly opposed the bill. The White House claimed earlier this month that the legislation is “designed to target and attack kids” who are LGBTQ. 

One amendment that will be facing a vote from vocal critic Rep. Ana Eskamani would push back on the legislation by allowing students to sue the Florida Department of Education for any “irreparable harm” caused by their sexual orientation being revealed.

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