The Parental Rights in Education Bill Goes Live in Florida – There’s More to It Than the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Critics Claim

Toby Hazlewood

Giving parents more involvement in the school life of their kids
Governor Ron DeSantisTwitter of GovRonDeSantis

With the passing of July 1, almost 150 new laws took effect in the state of Florida - among them the 'Parental Rights in Education' Bill which has come to be known colloquially as the 'Don't Say Gay' bill.

Debate has raged for months over its legitimacy and purpose, ever since the bill was approved during the state's legislative season. It was also the thing that kicked off the feud between DeSantis and Disney which has ultimately led to the threatened removal of the special tax status that the corporation has enjoyed for many years.

The contents of the bill that led to its nickname - the banning of instruction and discussion of topics of gender and sexual identity in grades K through 3 - remain its most contentious content. But on July 3 Governor Ron DeSantis took to twitter to announce the formal adoption of the bill into law, and to point out that the bill contains a couple of other provisions too - that may not seem so controversial.

It's about more than 'don't say gay'

In his post to Twitter, Governor DeSantis highlights the two other provisions of the bill. As the governor described when the bill was first signed into law:

"The bill ensures that at the beginning of every school year, parents will be notified about healthcare services offered at the school with the right to decline any service offered."

This provision seems to make sense since most parents would want to ensure that their children don't receive medical treatments without their explicit awareness and consent. Critics of DeSantis will likely speculate that this is a further means to ensure that kids don't receive treatments such as vaccinations within school as a matter of default.

The counter to this argument from some might be that if parents are to be given the rights to opt out on behalf of their kids, did it really make sense for the governor to effectively prevent the mass vaccination of kids against COVID-19 by failing to order doses for the state's children under 5?

Protection of privacy

According to Governor DeSantis, the third provision of the Parental Rights in Education bill is as follows:

"The bill ensures that whenever a questionnaire or health screening is given to our young students, parents receive it first and give permission for the school to give it to their child."

This provision will appeal to all those parents who don't want schools to be able to gather health-related information about their kids without having given express consent for them to do so - something that will likely matter most to those concerned with privacy of information.

It seems then that while the bill isn't universally popular, there are certainly elements of it that would seem to appeal to most, if not all parents. It remains to be seen whether the law will remain in place as it stands, or whether certain aspects of it are modified or removed.

Are you in favor of some or all aspects of the Parental Rights in Education bill? Do you think some parts of it should be amended or removed? Let me know in the comments section below.

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