TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida lawmakers’ efforts to redefine and regulate how sexual education and sexual orientation are taught in public schools remain a work in progress. Florida Rep. Stan McClain (R-Volusia) filed legislation to redefine what sex is in the state’s education code.
The Florida Early Learning-20 Education Code is the rulebook for Florida’s schools, courses, classes, and educational institutions, essentially, the official curriculum for state education.
According to McClain’s proposal, the bill would redefine what is meant by “sex” when it comes to instruction. Officially, the bill would define “sex” as “the binary division of individuals based upon reproductive function.”
Under the provisions of House Bill 1069, the materials used across Florida to teach any reproductive health lessons, regarding diseases, anatomy, symptoms, and treatments, including for HIV/AIDS, would need to be directly approved by the Florida Department of Education. Teaching on topics of AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, health education, or instruction regarding human sexuality may only be taught in grades 6-12, according to the proposal.
Florida schools will also be required to teach only that sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth. Lessons would have to teach specifically that biological males impregnate biological females through fertilization of female eggs with male sperm. The lessons would include the gestation process, as well as that reproductive roles “are binary, stable, and unchangeable.”
Any materials related to these lessons must be directly approved by the FDOE, according to the bill text.
Additionally, every one of Florida’s school district boards will be responsible for the content of all instructional materials or other materials used in a classroom, school library, or classroom library, or included on a reading list, when it comes to what content is available for perusal by students.
Each district board will also have to provide an objection form for certain materials, which “must be easy to read and understand and be easily accessible on the homepage of the school district’s website,” while having a process to handle objections to materials and content available.
The bill also redefines what is considered pornographic for the purpose of state statutes and bans on material in public school offerings.
Under the proposal, materials in school or classroom libraries may be described as pornographic if they “depict or describe sexual conduct,” unless the material is required by courses mandated in state statutes, or identified by State Board of Education rule.
Said materials, under McClain’s bill, must be made unavailable to any and all students if it has been objected to via official objection forms, until the objection is resolved.
Parents who object to materials must have the right to read passages from any material that is subject to an objection as well. If a material is to be reviewed by a committee, parents of the district must be able to access the materials.
If a committee is convened to review material for the purpose of resolving an objection by a parent or resident, the materials must be noticed and open to the public. The review committees must be convened and include parents of students who would be able to access the material.
The bill also requires that elementary schools publish a searchable database of all materials maintained and accessible in their school libraries or classroom libraries and media centers, and that parents have access to a district-published process for limiting what books or materials their student can access.
For materials a district receives objections to, the grade level and course material it was used in must be provided. Materials that were not removed or discontinued, and the rationale for not removing or discontinuing those items, must be documented.
Should McClain’s bill pass, it would take effect July 1.