TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida lawmakers introduced legislation to prohibit someone describing themselves or others with pronouns besides the ones they were born with, at least in the context of the Florida education system.
The legislation, House Bill 1223, is aimed at requiring “specified policies relating to person’s sex at public K-12 educational institutions.” The bill summary says it “prohibits specified actions relating to use of certain titles and pronouns; and revises requirements for instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools.”
It also expands bans on sexual orientation and gender identity topics in schools from kindergarten to third grade, as set up by Florida’s “Parental Rights in Education/Don’t Say Gay” bill to pre-K through eighth grade instead.
Rep. Adam Anderson (R-Palm Harbor) proposed the legislation Tuesday.
As written, HB 1223 makes it a requirement that “personal titles and pronouns” used in schools for kindergarten through 12th grade match the identity assigned at birth. Specifically, the bill says that “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun” that does not match their sex.
Employees, contractors, or students of a Florida public K-12 school will not be required to refer to others using a preferred personal title or pronoun if it does not match their sex, according to the proposed bill.
Additionally, doing so cannot be required as a condition of employment, enrollment, or participation in any programs for public K-12 educational institutions.
The bill also bans employees or contractors at K-12 schools from using or providing a student with their preferred personal titles or pronouns if it does not correspond to their biological sex.
Furthermore, students may not be asked by employees of public schools to give their preferred personal titles or pronouns, nor be penalized or subjected to adverse or discriminatory treatment for not giving their preferred name or pronouns.
Anderson’s proposal explicitly states that the newly filed legislation is to build upon 2021’s Parents’ Bill of Rights, which was the precursor to the controversial HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education that drew attention as the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
The bill also applies to more than just public schools in Florida, when it comes to instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity, building on HB 1557 directly for both public and charter schools in Florida.
According to Anderson’s bill, the legislation would expand prohibitions on instruction over those topics from K-3 to pre-K through eighth grade.
Participants in Florida’s Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program, both private providers or public schools, would be legally blocked from providing instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In response to the bill, a spokesman for Equality Florida said it was an expansion of last year’s harmful “Don’t Say Gay” law.
“Don’t Say LGBTQ policies have already resulted in sweeping censorship, book banning, rainbow Safe Space stickers being peeled from classroom windows, districts refusing to recognize LGBTQ History Month, and LGBTQ families preparing to leave the state altogether. This legislation is about a fake moral panic, cooked up by Governor DeSantis to demonize LGBTQ people for his own political career,” Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer said. “Governor DeSantis and the lawmakers following him are hellbent on policing language, curriculum, and culture. Free states don’t ban books or people.”
Should Anderson’s bill pass, it would take effect July 1.