Monday, February 21, 2022

FL: How To Make "Don't Say Gay" Bill Worse

Florida's HB 1557 is a truly terrible bill that clamps down on any mention or discussion of LGBTQ topics though Kansas actually has a worse bill which would forbid any mention of LGBTQ topics of any sort at all. Perhaps that is what inspired the sponsor of the Florida bill to make matters worse.

Last week the bill picked up 15 proposed amendments, most of which were attempts to mitigate the damage that the Don't Say Gay act would inflict. But Joe Harding, a co-sponsor of the original bill wanted to go in a different direction.

The bill originally tempered its requirement that the school must inform parents of anything going on with the student's mental health or well-being by including the note that the bill wouldn't 

prohibit the school district from adopting procedures to withhold such information from a parent if a reasonably prudent person would believe the disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment or neglect as those terms are defined in s. 39.01

Harding's amendment would add to that--

abuse, abandonment or neglect, as defined in s. 39.01, based solely on child-specific information personally known to the school personnel and as documented and approved by the school principal or his or her designees. The school principal or his or her designees shall develop a plan, using all available government resources, to disclose such information within 6 weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent. The plan must facilitate disclosure between the student and parent through an open dialogue in a safe, supportive, and judgment-free environment that respects the parent-child relationship and protects the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of the student.

So. The reasonably prudent person's judgment isn't good enough--there must be documentation specific to this particular child, and the administration has to go on record essentially declaring the parents abuse risks.

Then-- even if they've done all that--the school still has to out the child to their parents within six weeks. But there will be counseling--well, counseling that prioritizes the parents' right. 

In other words, Florida LGBTQ students with difficult family situations would understand that school would also not be a safe place for them to speak up.

This is a truly horrifying awful idea. As others have pointed out, if this becomes a law, LGBTQ children will die because of it. If you're in Florida, for heavens sake, call your elected representative.

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