• Florida Policy Watch

Legislative Alert: Anti-LGTBQ+ Youth, Unsafe Schools and More

Updated: Mar 4

First day of legislative session in Florida includes an anti-LGBTQ+ "so-called Parental Rights" bill backed by rightwing conservative groups, another committee meeting working to pass corporate immunity for COVID negligence, a Florida CARES press conference on criminal justice reform, and a statewide rally against the DeSantis anti-protest legislation (HB1/SB484). Join us in taking action against the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and find out how you can get more involved online and in person this week.

The corporate and conservative agenda has been the backbone of Florida's legislative agenda so far this year but progressive, directly-impacted groups are coming out fighting in their own defense the first day of session.

Tuesday, March 2nd is the first official day of the 2021 Florida legislative session. Packed with speeches from the Speaker of the House, Senate President and Governor this day is usually slammed with vistors from across the state floating in and out of legislative offices and holding "Awake the State" and "People's Assembly" rallies on the steps of the new and old Capitol buildings. This year the halls of the Senate Building are all but empty, no press conferences are allowed inside the Florida Capitol, and you have to register ahead of time to attend a House committee meeting or meet with a House Rep. Despite this, and the prediction of pouring rain, a handful of highly passionate directly-impacted groups are coming from all across the state to speak out in-person about issues that impact them and their families. To learn more about their events follow FPAN on FB today and view our allies calendar events.

Committee agendas for the day include the return of the anti-LGBTQ+ so-called "Parental Rights" bill. This overbroad bill disrupts the careful balance between parents’ rights and students’ constitutional rights within the Florida public school system. In particular, the bill presents problems for LGBTQ+ students who are already at risk of bullying and discrimination inside and outside of school by giving power and control to anti-LGBTQ+ and white supremacy parents, and parent groups, that are working to remove hard won LGBTQ+ “safe school” protections and inclusion policies.

This model legislation comes from national conservative anti-lgbtq, climate denial and white supremacist groups including Christian Coalition, the Heritage Foundation (climate deniers), and the Traditional Values Coalition. In Florida, the bill is backed by the Florida Citizens Alliance (FLCA) one of the strongest proponents of privatization of K-12 education through school vouchers. FLCA has over 26 strategic partners in Florida including the Alamo Gun Range, American Coalition for Property Rights, Flagler County Tea Party, Florida Conservatives United, the Koch Brothers backed James Madison Institute, and the Spirit of 76 Gun Club who will be allowed to to restrict and potentially control school curriculum including literature, history, science, and humanities lessons that are currently LGBTQ+, black, brown, indigenous and immigrant inclusive and reflect current educational standards through the legislation.

Of note the bill would: 1) require teachers and guidance counselors to make information given in confidence by a trusting student available to their parents. This includes outing a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This practice potentially subjects students to harm by a hostile or unaccepting parent and may cause students to distrust adults in the system who are trained to listen and guide them through difficult identity related issues; 2) makes accessing healthcare and mental health counseling more difficult for LGBTQ+ youth; 3) disrupts LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education and sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening potentially causing long term health consequences to vulnerable students; and 4) support anti-vaxxers who are waging campaigns against multiple vaccination requirements and the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In particular, parts of SB582/HB241 would slow down education processes and create extraordinary cost to teachers and schools through a new definition of “instructional materials” and additional fines and fees and school board requirements for violations. This additional language would most certainly impede current inclusive education practices and chill the speech of inclusive education that give students an ability to “see themselves” reflected in their educational material.

Please take a moment and send an email to legislators on both committees and fill out the form below to find out more about how you, or the organization you represent, can help fight against the Unsafe Schools bill and protect Florida's most vulnerable children.

Fill out the form below to find out how you, or the organization you are affiliated with, can help join the fight to stop SB582/HB241.

Florida Policy Action Network is a project of the Florida Center for Fiscal and Economic Policy and the Florida People's Advocacy Center. We combine movement research, public policy analysis, and citizen supported advocacy and action to change the way elected officals in Florida debate issues that directly impact the state's most marginalized and oppressed. Our work needs your support. Please consider making a tax deductable donation today.

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