Florida Parental Rights in Education Act

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Parental Rights in Education Act
Seal of Florida.svg
Florida Legislature
CitationHB 1557
Enacted by2020–2022 Florida Legislature
EnactedMarch 28, 2022
Signed byRon DeSantis
CommencedJuly 1, 2022
Introduced byJoe Harding
Dennis K. Baxley
Requires district school boards to adopt procedures that comport with certain provisions of law for notifying student's parent of specified information, prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels
Status: In force

The Parental Rights in Education Act, commonly known by critics as the Don't Say Gay Law, is a Florida law introduced and passed in 2022 which outlined new statutes for primary education, notably for prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to grade 3 in Florida's public school districts, or instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner that is not "age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students" in any grade, and for prohibiting schools from restricting parental access to their student's education and health records.[1] Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on March 28, 2022, which became effective on July 1, 2022.[2]

Earlier versions of the bill were criticized by some individuals as well as large corporations for prohibiting students in primary classes (kindergarten to grade 3) from learning about gender identity in schools. In particular, The Walt Disney Company was notably vocal in its opposition after pressure from employees, leading to DeSantis and Disney being involved in an ongoing feud which included the abolition of the Reedy Creek Improvement District.[3]

Legislative history[edit]

Republican Florida state Sen. Dennis K. Baxley originally introduced SB 1834 "Parental Rights in Education" into the Senate on January 7, 2022, but it later died.[4] On January 11, Republican Florida state Rep. Joe Harding along with the Education and Employment Committee introduced a companion version into the House.[4] Known informally as the "Don't Say Gay" bill,[5] it prohibited teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ related topics in classrooms from kindergarten to third grade.[6][7] The legislation has been opposed by the American Bar Association,[8] Equality Florida,[9] and President Joe Biden.[10] Despite that, on February 24, the bill passed the Florida House. It then passed the Florida Senate on March 8, with Baxley in full support.[4]

Support and opposition[edit]

Supporters of the bill state that discussions about sexuality and gender identity with very young children should be handled by a child's parents, and not by their schools;[11] DeSantis's Press Secretary Christina Pushaw has called HB 1557 an "Anti-Grooming Bill" and falsely claimed that anyone who opposes the bill is "probably a groomer."[12] California governor Gavin Newsom called out Pushaw by remarking "I say grooming – yeah it should offend".[13] Over 60 percent of Americans oppose laws like the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act.[14]

Dennis Baxley originally proposed the bill in 2021

Some conservatives, such as political commentator Matt Walsh, argue that the bill does not go far enough.[11] Former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard also argued that the bill should have been more expansive. Gabbard stated instead of kindergarten to grade 3, the legislation should encompass students from kindergarten to 12th grade.[15]

There are concerns among some legal scholars that the proposed legislation within Florida could violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and could be potentially unconstitutional.[16] Walkouts by students were held in schools across Florida in response to the bill.[17][18] Nationally, 158 companies (including Marriott, Hilton, American Airlines, and Airbnb) signed a Human Rights Campaign petition opposing the bill.[19] The American Psychological Association has also voiced opposition to the law.[20][21]

The Walt Disney Company[edit]

Employees at The Walt Disney Company planned walkouts over the bill, which culminated in a large protest.[22] The company and CEO Bob Chapek (despite earlier maintaining no stance), as well as Disney heir Charlee Corra all decided to publicly oppose the bill, with Corra also using the moment to come out as transgender. The company received heavy criticism from DeSantis and many conservative media outlets for its opposition to the bill.[23][24]

Public opinion[edit]

A University of Florida poll showed voters are divided – 49% strongly or somewhat disapproved of the legislation and 40% strongly or somewhat approved. The poll's small sample size made the margin of error high.[25] A Yahoo! News/YouGov poll found that 76% of Republicans support the legislation. The poll found that 24% of Democrats supported the bill, 24% responded "not sure", and 52% opposed it.[26] A poll from the Republican campaigning company Public Opinion Strategies found that 61% support the legislation while 26% oppose it, 67% of parents support the legislation while 24% oppose it, and 51% of Democrats support the legislation while 29% oppose it.[27]

Legal challenges[edit]

On March 31, a lawsuit was filed in federal court by law firm Kaplan Hecker and Fink, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and public attorney Elizabeth F. Schwartz on behalf of Equality Florida and Family Equality, which sought to block the bill on the grounds that it was unconstitutional. The lawsuit alleged that the bill violates the constitutionally protected rights of free speech, equal protection and due process of students and families, and argued that the bill was an effort to "control young minds" which prevented students from living "their true identities in school".[28][29][30]

On July 26, Florida high school student Will Larkins and the national LGBT+ organization CenterLink, through the Southern Poverty Law Center, Southern Legal Counsel, and Lambda Legal, filed suit against four Florida school districts' boards (those of the Orange County Public Schools, the School District of Palm Beach County, the School District of Indian River County, and the Duval County Public Schools), claiming the law's "vigilante enforcement mechanism," combined with its "intentionally vague and sweeping scope, invites parents who oppose any acknowledgement whatsoever of the existence of LGBTQ+ people to sue, resulting in schools acting aggressively to silence students, parents, and school personnel."[31] A representative for Orange County stated that the school administration "will always take steps necessary to comply with Florida laws."[32]


  1. ^ "Florida House Bill 1557". Flsenate.gov. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  2. ^ O'Connor, Lydia (2022-03-28). "Gov. Ron DeSantis Signs Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Into Law". HuffPost. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  3. ^ Maddaus, Gene (2022-04-06). "Disney vs. Ron DeSantis: Why the Media Giant's Fight Over 'Don't Say Gay' Keeps Escalating". Variety. Retrieved 2022-04-14.
  4. ^ a b c "CS/CS/HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education". The Florida Senate. Retrieved 2022-03-20.
  5. ^ Arceneaux, Michael (March 8, 2022). "Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is just as bizarre as we thought, according to the person who sponsored it". The Independent. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  6. ^ "CS/CS/HB 1557 (2022) - Parental Rights in Education | Florida House of Representatives". www.myfloridahouse.gov. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  7. ^ "Lawmaker Pulls Amendment to Florida's "Don't Say Gay" Bill That Would Force Teachers to Out Students". news.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  8. ^ Journal, A. B. A. "ABA opposes provisions in Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill". ABA Journal. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  9. ^ Migdon, Brooke (2022-02-15). "LGBTQ+ group slams Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill in new ad". TheHill. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  10. ^ "'Don't Say Gay': Biden denounces 'hateful' new Florida bill". BBC News. 2022-02-10. Retrieved 2022-02-23.
  11. ^ a b Foley, Ryan (2022-03-09). "DeSantis slams 'false' media claims about bill to ban teaching gender ideology to kids". The Christian Post. Archived from the original on 2022-03-10. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  12. ^ Alfonseca, Kiara. "Some Republicans use false 'pedophilia' claims to attack Democrats, LGBTQ people". abcnews.go.com. ABC News. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  13. ^ Vakil, Caroline (2022-07-13). "Newsom calls out DeSantis spokesperson who suggests critics of 'Don't Say Gay' bill are 'groomers'". The Hill. Retrieved 2022-07-14.
  14. ^ Cite error: The named reference :ABC was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  15. ^ Johnson, Chris (2022-04-04). "Tulsi Gabbard says Florida 'Don't Say Gay' law should have gone further". Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News. Retrieved 2022-04-24.
  16. ^ Migdon, Brooke (2022-03-05). "Does Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill violate the First Amendment?". The Hill. Archived from the original on 2022-03-08. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  17. ^ "Tampa Bay students walk out in protest of Florida's 'don't say gay' bill". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on 2022-03-06. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  18. ^ Nation, LGBTQ. "Students across Florida walkout of classes in protest of "Don't say gay" bill". LGBTQ Nation. Archived from the original on 2022-03-07. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  19. ^ Henry Berg-Brousseau (February 28, 2022). "Marriott, Hilton, American Airlines and AirBnb Join 150+ Major U.S. Companies To Oppose Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation in Florida".
  20. ^ "APA president condemns Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill". www.apa.org. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  21. ^ "Psychologists Explain Why HB 1557, Dubbed 'Don't Say Gay,' Is Unhealthy For Children". 2022-03-29. Retrieved 2022-04-28.
  22. ^ Faughnder, Ryan (March 15, 2022). "Disney LGBTQ employees plan walkout over Florida bill". LA Times. Archived from the original on March 16, 2022. Retrieved March 20, 2022.
  23. ^ "Disney heir comes out as transgender, condemns Florida's LGBTQ law". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2022-04-14.
  24. ^ "DeSantis takes on Disney in latest battle in the Republican culture war". the Guardian. 2022-04-09. Retrieved 2022-04-14.
  25. ^ "Voters split over 'Don't Say Gay' bill in Florida Legislature". Sun Sentinel. 2022-02-22. Archived from the original on 3 March 2022.
  26. ^ Romano, Andrew (2022-04-06). "Poll: Only 52% of Democrats oppose Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' policy". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  27. ^ "'Don't Say Gay' Is Popular? You Don't Say". The Wall Street Journal. 2022-04-01. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-04-02.
  28. ^ "LGBTQ groups sue Florida over the so-called 'Don't Say Gay' law". Associated Press. 2022-04-01. Retrieved 2022-04-03.
  29. ^ Larson, Erik (2022-03-31). "DeSantis LGBTQ School Law Harms 'True Identities,' Suit Says". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2022-04-03.
  30. ^ "EQUALITY FLORIDA et al v. DESANTIS et al". Justia Dockets & Filings. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  31. ^ "Florida families and advocacy groups file lawsuit over 'Don't Say Gay' law". NBC News. Retrieved 2022-07-28.
  32. ^ "Florida families and advocacy groups file lawsuit over 'Don't Say Gay' law". NBC News. Retrieved 2022-07-28.

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