Florida’s Controversial Education Bills

Over the past several weeks, the Florida Legislature has passed two hotly contested education reform bills — HB 1557 and HB 7.

Jonathan Good
Leans Left
Stephen Webber
Leans Right

Over the past several weeks, the Florida Legislature has passed two hotly contested education reform bills. Most notably, it approved the Parental Rights in Education Bill (HB 1557) and the Individual Freedom Bill (HB 7) regarding educational instruction and workplace policies in the state of Florida. Left-leaning organizations have labeled HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” arguing that the legislation will prevent teachers from covering issues of sexual orientation and gender identity with their students. Republicans have rebuffed the “Don’t Say Gay” label, saying the bill is about age appropriateness and only applies to students at or below 3rd grade.

Bill 1557 states, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” 

The measure has drawn intense criticism from LGBTQ advocates and Democrats, who argue that the bill’s use of “age-appropriate” and “developmentally appropriate” is overly broad and could be used to prohibit such discussions throughout all grades. It has also drawn the ire of the Biden administration, with the President himself calling it “hateful” and the U.S. Education Secretary seemed to insinuate it could violate Title IX. 

Right-leaning groups called the provision a step to protect against the sexualization and indoctrination of children. Governor Ron DeSantis, who is seeking re-election this year, has signaled support for the bill and is expected to sign it into law. On Monday, he told reporters, “We’re going to make sure that parents are able to send their kid to kindergarten without having some of this stuff injected into their school curriculum.” In addition, the bill replaces the term “genders” for “sexes,” cementing two sexes in state education law. The bill also allows parents to sue school districts over alleged violations.

Although the provisions of the bills on sexual orientation drew the most attention, they mainly cover race and mental health. Within HB 1557, one section dictates that schools must “adopt procedures for notifying a student’s parent if there is a change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health.” HB 7 also expands the definition of emotional health education curriculum to include “self-awareness and self-management, responsible decisionmaking, resiliency, relationship skills and conflict resolution, and understanding and respecting other viewpoints and backgrounds.”

HB 7 almost entirely focuses on preventing “concepts constituting discrimination based on race, color, sex, or national origin.” These include redefining discrimination and outlawing the following concepts* for employment and education.

  1. Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to others. 
  2. An individual is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive due to their skin color.
  3. An individual’s moral character is either privileged or oppressed.
  4. People can treat others without respect due to their race, color, sex, or national origin. 
  5. An individual bears responsibility or should feel guilt for adverse treatment committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin. 
  6. An individual, by virtue of their race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion. 
  7. Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist.

*This list is an abridged version of the bill’s provisions. For the entire text, read HB 7.

Left Narrative

Across the country, Republicans have politicized the classroom by weaponizing parents’ misunderstandings about school curriculums. With these bills, Republicans are trying to erase history, prioritizing political gain over our kids’ education. This “CRT ban” serves as a catch-all to prohibit diversity initiatives. Additionally, this cruel legislation will seriously harm children that already face marginalization. The vague language will force teachers to censor themselves, fearing that their students’ parents could cost them their career over anything they disagree with, even historical facts. We must do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable students and stop the attack on teachers.

Left-Lean Narrative

Right-Lean Narrative

Right Narrative

As a society, we should not be sexualizing children. This bill bans the teaching of sexualities to children in 3rd grade and younger. Left-wing gender ideologists falsely labeled this bill in an attempt to paint conservatives as homophobic, rather than correctly identifying that children should not be sexualized and people should not be judged based on their race. Proper sex ed should be taught to teens, not toddlers. This bill is a great first step to eliminating radical gender and racial ideologies from the classroom.

Questions & Answers

Reading Comprehension

Have your students take a reading comprehension quiz to see how well they understood the article and different opinions.

Launch Activity

Discussion Questions

  1. At what age do you think sex ed should be taught?
  2. Do you think the racial discrimination definitions prohibit teaching?
  3. Why do you think CRT has become such a controversial topic?
  4. How would you prevent certain topics from being taught without infringing free speech?
  5. Would you change either of the bills in any way? If so, how?

Current Events in this story

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Accompanying Content

min
Newsweek
‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Will Be Detrimental to LGBTIQ+ Youth | Opinion

Bryan Cochran and Kelly Davis, a professor and doctoral student in the University of Montana Department of Psychology, examine the potential psychological damage HB 1557 will impose on students.

Article
Mar 3, 2022
Left
Bias
min
Human Rights Campaign
Florida Senate Passes “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” Bill, Legislation Heads to DeSantis’ Desk for Signature or Veto

The HRC, the largest LGBTQ advocacy and lobbying group, highlights anti-LGBTQ legislation and campaigns happening nationwide and characterizes Florida’s HB 1557 as the latest in this line.

Article
Mar 8, 2022
Left
Bias
min
National Review
What the Florida CRT Bill Actually Says

TV commentators are running with the AP’s spin, claiming that it outlaws “white discomfort,” a phrase nowhere found in the bill. The actual bill text is here.

Article
Jan 19, 2022
Right
Bias
min
Parents Defending Education
IndoctriNation Map

An interactive map of school incidents of CRT across the United States.

Interactive
Mar 7, 2022
Right
Bias
min
Florida House of Representatives
Florida House of Representatives Bill 1557

This is the complete text with highlighted changes of Florida House of Representatives Bill 1557 requiring civic and character education instead of a character development program.

Report
Mar 8, 2022
Right
Bias
min
Florida House of Representatives
Florida House of Representatives Bill 7

This is the complete text with highlighted changes of Florida House of Representatives Bill 7 redefining discrimination.

Report
Feb 24, 2022
Right
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