TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Rep. Joe Harding, R-Williston, withdrew his amendment to the controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would forcibly disclose student sexual orientations if they are not straight. The amendment was proposed on Friday and removed Tuesday before a House question and answer session began.
House Bill 1557 has been subject to statewide and national attention and debate, with even the White House weighing in on the proposed legislation’s effects on students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Parents and other advocacy groups who support the LGBTQ+ community across Florida and nationally reacted to the bill amendment, worried that the bill would “silence LGBTQ speech” in schools.
Jeff and Todd Delmay, a legally married gay couple in Florida told 8 On Your Side’s Niko Clemmons they were concerned about the bill’s effect on classrooms across the state, including that of their 11-year-old son.
Before a House question and answer session on Feb. 22 about the bill, the even more politically polarizing amendment was withdrawn by Harding.
According to previous coverage, the bill would have forced schools to out their LGBTQ+ students to parents within six weeks of a student disclosing their sexual orientation to school personnel. The amendment had set up what it called a protocol to encourage a safe discussion between parents and students, but removed protections for students who would have potentially been subject to abuse, abandonment or neglect by their families.
With the amendment now removed, the bill continues through the legislative process. The Florida House continues the question and answer session Tuesday, with a full floor vote in the chamber expected Thursday.