Florida recently passed legislation expanding and codifying parental rights in their child’s education. One of the most controversial sections of the law prohibits classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade or in a manner that is not age or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.
Critics have used this provision to frame this legislation as a “Don’t Say Gay” law. But supporters on both sides of the political aisle say such legislation is necessary because parents should be informed regarding what their children are taught about topics like homosexuality, transgenderism, and gender fluidity.
“Parents have a fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children, and schools should not be keeping important information from parents,” said Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson. “Children belong to families, not the state.”
Since the passage of the Florida bill, more than a dozen other states have proposed similar legislation. Here is some of the legislation related to parental rights and LGBTQ+ issues in education:
Alabama: In April, the state passed an amendment that prohibits classroom instruction or discussion on sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through the fifth grade in public K-12 schools.
Arizona: A proposed bill in the legislature would allow parents to review the formational documents of any school student group or club involving sexuality, gender, or gender identity. Another bill had language stricken from its final version that would have prevented school officials from withholding or concealing, facilitating, encouraging, or coercing students into concealing a student’s gender identity or “requested transition” if it is “incongruous with their biological sex.” Parents also would have needed to give consent before students were asked questions on a survey about gender expression, perception, or stereotypes.
Indiana: A proposed bill would prohibit any requirement for students enrolled at a state educational institution to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling. Another proposed bill would require parents’ written consent for students to receive sex education on transgenderism and would require parental consent for medical inspections or mental health treatment, including on counseling about gender transitioning issues, pronoun selection, and referral to other agencies that provide these services.
Iowa: A proposed bill prohibits curriculum provided to a student from including instruction relating to gender identity unless the school district or accredited nonpublic school obtains the prior written consent of the student’s parent or guardian. If a parent or guardian does not provide written consent, a student may opt out of instruction relating to gender identity. Another bill would require schools to give a week’s notice to parents before educators ask students which pronoun they prefer or before administering a survey on pronoun use and to send them the response upon request.
Louisiana: A proposed bill would prohibit classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in kindegarten through eighth grade and prohibit teachers, school employees, and presenters from discussing their sexual orientation or gender identity with students.
Missouri: A proposed bill would prevent public schools from requiring students to engage in gender or sexual diversity training.
North Carolina: A proposed bill would require any state employee to report to parents if a minor has exhibited symptoms of gender dysphoria, gender nonconformity, or otherwise demonstrates a desire to be treated in a manner incongruent with their biological sex.
Ohio: A proposed bill would prevent, teach, use, or provide any curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade, and prohibits students in grades four through 12 from being taught or having to use curriculum or instructional materials on sexual orientation or gender identity in any manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.
Oklahoma: A proposed bill would prohibit public schools or libraries from holding or promoting books that make as their primary subject the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender issues or recreational sexualization.
Rhode Island: A proposed bill would also require children to be addressed by their common names and the pronouns associated with their biological gender unless parent permission is given to change them.
South Carolina: A proposed bill would prevent any state-funded entity from subjecting minors under the age of 18 to instruction, presentations, discussions, counseling, or materials in any medium that involve a number of “controversial and age-inappropriate topics,” including gender identity. The state has also proposed a bill that says a student, administrator, teacher, staff member, other school or district employee, or volunteer may not be required to engage in any form of mandatory gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.
Tennessee: A proposed bill would prohibit the state board from approving textbooks and instructional materials or supplemental instructional materials that promotes, normalizes, supports, or addresses lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender (LGBT) issues or lifestyles.
Wisconsin: The governor vetoed broad-based parent’s rights legislation that included a right to determine the names and pronouns used for the child while at school.