Red States Considering Bill Like Florida’s Parental Rights Law

Red States Considering Bill Like Florida's Parental Rights Law ron desantis speaks at the podium during a news conference Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis (Chris O'Meara/AP)

By Nicole Wells | Tuesday, 05 April 2022 06:29 PM

Considering taking a page out of Florida's playbook, red state lawmakers across the country are on the cusp of new legislation that would prohibit classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity with young students, The Hill reports.

Modeled after Florida's new Parental Rights in Education Act, which was signed into law last month by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, lawmakers in Ohio and Louisiana have filed bills that ban schools from using curriculum that includes sexual orientation and gender identity topics.

According to The Hill, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, said the Lone Star State's version of the bill would be a top priority in the next legislative session.

In an email to supporters, Patrick, who is running for reelection, said he was furious at The Walt Disney Company working with activist groups to repeal the law amid pressure by LGBTQ groups.

"Some may think parents, including me, are overreacting," Patrick wrote. "We are not. If we cannot fight for our children, then what can we fight for?"

Louisiana educators and school employees would be barred from talking about their personal sexual orientation or gender identity with any student, from kindergarten through 12th grade, if the state's measure passes.

"There's no need for any child to ever know the private life of their educator," state GOP Rep. Dodie Horton, the bill's chief sponsor, told KSLA-TV. "It's not prejudice to one group or another. It just doesn't discuss it at all."

Critics of the bills say they deliberately target at-risk students.

"All of these curriculum censorship bills seek to erase and stigmatize young people who already experience marginalization," Aaron Ridings, chief of staff and deputy executive director for public policy and research at GLSEN, told The Hill. "All elected officials should be getting back to work on reopening schools and making sure that young people can learn and thrive and reach their own potential. These bills are a step backward."

According to The Hill, GLSEN was founded 30 years ago to fight legislation dubbed "No Promo Homo" bills, which sought to marginalize discussion of sexual orientation.

Liberals and conservatives have battled over public school sex education for decades, with those campaigns growing recently to include sexual orientation and gender identity, both inside the classroom and out on the sports field.

"It's part of the same strategy that reduces and creates barriers to educational opportunities in our schools," Ridings said. "There's a chilling effect from all of these bills on people who are LGBTQ+."