Tallahassee Democrat education reporter Ana Gona-Lessan has adopted the “Don’t Say Gay” moniker when referencing the Parental Rights in Education bill which is working its way through the Florida Legislature.
On Monday, reporting on the Leon County School Board agenda review meeting, Goni-Lessan stated, “This LGBTQ+ guide is for district employees who might find themselves in conversations about gender identity with students…which is a huge topic this legislative session. If the Don’t Say Gay bill passes, it will have a direct effect on this guide.”
In addition, the Tallahassee Democrat featured an article on the front page of their Monday print edition about the bill – which Goni-Lessan co-wrote – with the “Don’t Say Gay” label in the title.
A search of the article reveals the legislation is never referred to as the Parental Rights in Education bill – which is the formal name of the bill.
The “Don’t Say Gay” moniker has been adopted by progressive politicians and LGBTQ+ advocacy groups based on a provision in the bill that prohibits a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels.
However, the bill addresses a number of issues related to parental rights.
For example, the bill provides additional requirements for school districts to notify parents if there is a change in their student’s services or monitoring in relation to their student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.
In addition, the bill requires school districts to adopt procedures that reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children. The procedures must require school district personnel to encourage a student to discuss issues relating to his or her well-being with his or her parent, or to seek permission to discuss or facilitate discussion of the issue with the parent.
The bill – in part – attempts to address school policies related to parental rights and student confidentiality which have been implemented inconsistently by school boards in Florida.
However, opponents of the bill seem to be only focused on their “Don’t Say Gay” characterization of the bill.
For example, Florida Representative Anna Eskamani, who has been a frequent critic of the Parental Rights in Education bill, has refused to answer questions about the parental rights aspect of the proposed legislation.