The Florida House of Representatives passed the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill on Thursday, The Hill reports. The legislation would limit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools.
The legislation, officially titled the Parental Rights in Education bill, passed in a 69-47 vote. All Democrats, plus seven Republicans, voted against the act. Next, it will move to the Florida Senate, where similar legislation is already being considered.
Introduced by Republican Rep. Joe Harding, the bill would ban classrooms from discussing LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The bill would also allow parents to take legal action against school districts they believe to be in violation of the law.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled support for the bill, but has not expressly said whether he will sign it if it reaches his desk.
Pro-LGBTQ+ groups have widely condemned the bill. In a statement shortly after the vote, advocacy group Equality Florida said, “If signed into law, these bills will have disastrous impacts on classrooms and workplaces.”
Following the vote, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said, “For those LGBTQ youth in Florida and around the country and in the world … you are loved. You are supported. And we will wake up every day to fight for you because you are worth fighting for.”
President Joe Biden tweeted on Feb. 8, “I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are. I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.”
Hollywood has also been outspoken against the bill. Earlier this month, Billy Eichner tweeted, “Does everyone realize what is happening in FL with this ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill? That to acknowledge the existence of LGBTQ+ and trans/GNC people in classrooms could get teachers/students sued? Please make yourself aware if you aren’t, this is very dangerous.”
Kerry Washington also took to Twitter to condemn the bill, writing, “Horrified by what is happening in Florida. Children deserve to be who they want to be. To be their true selves. If there was ever a time to register to vote, it is now.”