TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — More than 100 LGBTQ+ advocates marched to Florida’s Capitol on Friday to protest the potential expansion of one of Florida’s most controversial laws.
The Florida House passed HB 1069, which would expand the Parental Rights in Education law, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The bill passed in a mostly party-line vote, 77-35.
The bill would limit the ways teachers and students can use preferred pronouns, and prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity through eighth grade. The law currently bans those lessons in grades kindergarten through third grade.
Critics and LGBTQ+ advocates have expressed concerns over the legislation, saying they’re worried it will silence students and teachers.
“I am very scared of this bill. I genuinely believe this is going to cause a lot of deaths in the LGBTQ community,” said Student Unity Coalition organizer Catherine Clark.
Some Republicans argue it was created not to be discriminatory, but to further strengthen parental rights and ensure all instruction is age or developmentally appropriate.
“It’s not anti-anybody. It’s just saying that if you’re going to put that kind of material in there it doesn’t belong in a school library.” State Rep. Paul Renner (R-Palm Coast) said.
The Florida Senate’s version of the bill is still making its way through committees. It will likely see a passage followed by protests similar to the ones on Friday.