The state of Florida recently passed HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education, and it caused quite a stir. This bill has been portrayed as a so-called 'Don't Say Gay' bill, insinuating that it completely prohibits the teaching and/or discussion of homosexuality and miscellaneous LGBTLMNOPQRS++ subjects forever and always. So, I decided to dig into the actual bill and see what it was all about. Mercifully, it was only seven pages long and the first couple were not that important. I managed to get it down to a two(-ish) page outline that is easy to read and free from all the Legalese that makes these bills so goddamn slow to read. Feel free to download it, share it, burn it, whatever you want. And if you've got something to ask or tell me, my office is open.
Florida HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education
Note from the Author: This is a summary of Florida’s HB 1557, known colloquially (and in my opinion, misleadingly) as the Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. This bill was quite short at only seven pages, but even so, I’ve condensed it down to two(-ish) pages. This means that there will be some loss of specificity in this summary, so if you have any questions about wording or “does this apply to this,” I would refer you to the original bill and, subsequently, to the American court system and a lawyer. These sections are arranged in the same way that Section 1 of the bill is organized. This is the meat of the bill, and Sections 2 & 3 are practical details. If you’d like to read the bill for yourself, you can find it here: https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/1557/BillText/er/PDF
I may publish an opinion on this bill and its public reaction on my blog, which you can read here: Home | The Milko Perspective
If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions, I’d be delighted to hear from you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!
- The Milkman
1) Section 1: Parent Notification and Discussion Encouragement
a) Requires school districts to notify a parent if there is a change in the student’s monitoring of services related to mental, emotional, or physical health, or the school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment.
b) Requires school districts to encourage students to discuss issues regarding well-being with parents, or to facilitate such discussions. These procedures may not prevent parents from accessing the student’s education and health records.
2) Section 2: Preventing Parental Notification or Encouraging Withholding Information
a) School districts can’t prevent staff from notifying parents in accordance with the criteria in Section 1.
b) School districts can’t encourage students to withhold such information from their parents.
c) School districts can’t discourage or prohibit parental notification or parental involvement in critical decisions regarding the criteria laid out in Section 1.
d) This section doesn’t prevent staff from withholding information if a “reasonably prudent person” would believe that disclosing information to the parents would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect (these terms are defined in Florida Statute 39.01).
3) Section 3: Restrictions on Teaching of Sexual Matters
a) Prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity:
i) in kindergarten through 3rd grade, or
ii) in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.
4) Section 4: Services Adhering to State Standards
a) Student support services training must adhere to standards established by the Department of Education.
5) Section 5: Parental Notification of Services Offered
a) Parents must be notified of healthcare services offered at the beginning of the year.
b) Parents must be given the option to not consent or decline any services.
c) Parental consent does not waive parental rights as described in Section 1.
6) Section 6: Parental Permission for Questionnaires and Screenings
a) Parents must give permission before the school gives a “well-being questionnaire” or “health screening” to a student in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
7) Section 7: Parental Concerns Procedure
a) School districts must have a procedure for parents to notify the principal of their concerns and for them to be dealt with in 7 days.
i) If the concern remains unresolved after 30 days, the school district must resolve it or give a reason for why it wasn’t resolved.
ii) If the concern isn’t resolved by the school district, a parent can:
(1) Request a “special magistrate (judge that deals in low crimes)” to be appointed, who will then make a recommendation to the State Board of Education, who will then approve or reject the recommendation. The costs of the special magistrate shall be paid by the school district.
(2) Sue the school district and receive a judgement that the school district violated the law and therefore has to pay damages to the parent.