TALLAHASSEE — This is a sad day for Florida’s students.
By voting to pass the “Erase History” and “Don’t Say Gay” bills, some misguided lawmakers in the Florida House have chosen to compromise the quality of students’ education, make our classrooms less welcoming and safe for many children, further drive educators out of our schools during a staffing crisis, and open the door to chaos and financial risk for the school districts striving to serve all of Florida’s kids, along with the taxpayers who will pay for the inevitable litigation.
“Educators love their students. We all want to make sure that every child can grow and thrive, regardless of race, background, ZIP code or ability,” said Florida Education Association President Andrew Spar. “These bills mean some of our students will no longer feel safe and secure, or even seen, based on who they are. Both bills promote discrimination and censorship, and send the clearly un-American message to students that individuality is not valued, that everyone must conform to a single point of view.”
The two censorship bills passed today by the Florida House limit what schools can say and teach regarding our nation’s history (HB 7/SB 148) and regarding issues related to students who are part of or associated with the LGBTQ+ community, such as students with two parents of the same gender (HB 1557/SB 1834). The bills are still under consideration in the Senate and have not been passed by that chamber.
Both bills will undoubtably spur lawsuits if they become law, with the “Don’t Say Gay” bill introducing a cause of action by which any parent could sue a school district if they believe the district “encouraged” inappropriate classroom discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity, no matter the grade level where the discussion occurred.
“In addition to their negative impact on students’ education and well-being, these bills potentially drive a wedge between parents and educators,” President Spar said. “Parents are on the same team as teachers, staff and administrators, but both bills ignore that reality. Kids do best when we all work together.”
By pitting parents and teachers against one another, and by further limiting educators’ freedom to teach, the bills stand to push even more educators out of our schools. There are currently more than 4,000 teacher vacancies and 5,000 support staff vacancies statewide. The most important issue for lawmakers to address this session is the shortage of professionally trained teachers and staff.
Instead of addressing real needs, the “Erase History” and “Don’t Say Gay” bills put a political agenda ahead of the best interests of our children.
CONTACT: Joni Branch, firstname.lastname@example.org, (850) 201-3223
The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest association of professional employees, with 150,000 members. FEA represents PreK-12 teachers, higher education faculty, educational staff professionals, students at our colleges and universities preparing to become teachers and retired education employees.