Fact Check: Word 'Gay' NOT Mentioned In Florida Bill Limiting Teaching About Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity In School

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Word 'Gay' NOT Mentioned In Florida Bill Limiting Teaching About Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity In School May Say Gay

Did the Florida legislature ban the word "gay" in the state? No, that's not true: Florida lawmakers did pass the Parental Rights in Education bill on March 8, 2022. The word gay never appears in the seven pages of legislation. The terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" show up twice. LGBTQ activists have dubbed it the "Don't Say Gay" bill because it would limit what classrooms can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity.

The claim appeared in a tweet (archived here) on March 8, 2022. It opens:

Just remember, the party of limited government and free speech banned the word gay in the state of Florida.

This is what the post looked like on Twitter on March 9, 2022:

Gay Twitter.png

(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Wed Mar 9 15:51:51 2022 UTC)

The legislation, CS/CS/HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education, is described this way on the Florida Senate website (bold emphasis is ours):

Parental Rights in Education; Requires district school boards to adopt procedures that comport with certain provisions of law for notifying student's parent of specified information; requires such procedures to reinforce fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing & control of their children; ... prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels; requires school districts to notify parents of healthcare services; authorizes parent to bring action against school district to obtain declaratory judgment; provides for additional award of injunctive relief, damages, & reasonable attorney fees & court costs to certain parents.

This section of the bill specifically deals with sexual orientation and gender identity (Page 4, Line 97):

3. 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.

A bill analysis by the Florida Department of Education describes it a bit differently:

School districts must prohibit classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade level 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

The press office of the Florida Department of Education said this about the legislation in a March 10, 2022, email to Lead Stories:

The bill ... requires school boards to adopt procedures to notify parents if there is a change in the student's services or monitoring related to the student's mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, unless disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect. In addition, the bill reinforces the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children and prohibits encouraging classroom discussion in primary grades regarding sexual orientation or gender identity or in a manner that is not age appropriate.

The State Board of Education adopts academic standards by subject and grade level for what students are expected to learn and know. Florida's standards ensure that all schools and all classrooms have the same expectations for students, and they help to make sure that all students have access to a high-quality education.

The state standards are set by the Florida Department of Education and are posted to the CPALMS website. As of March 10, 2022, Lead Stories couldn't pinpoint standards for sexual orientation or gender identity in the Health Education section of the agency's website that covers students grades K-12.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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