Florida lawmakers introduce cruel bill to ban preferred names and pronouns for trans kids

A child in a rainbow T-shirt holds a sign reading "It's okay to say gay"

Florida lawmakers have proposed a bill that would expand the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law to older children, as well as ban the use of pronouns for trans and non-binary students and teachers.

Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill (Don’t Say Gay) was signed in March 2022, restricting the discussion of LGBTQ+ identities in classrooms until third grade. The new proposed legislation would broaden this law to cover children in the eighth grade (aged 13 and 14).

The bill would also ban public school employees from using a student’s name and pronouns if they do not correspond to what they were assigned at birth, forcing teachers to misgender trans and non-binary students.

Teachers and employees would be banned from telling students their own preferred name or pronouns if they do not correspond to those assigned at birth.

The legislation, filed on Tuesday (28 February) by Republican representative Adam Anderson, states: “It shall be the policy of every public K-12 educational institution that is provided or authorised by the constitution and laws of Florida, that a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait, and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”

Anderson told The Hill: “This bill promotes parental rights, transparency and state standards in Florida schools. It requires that lessons for Florida’s students are age-appropriate, focused on education and free from sexualisation and indoctrination.”

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However, LGBTQ+ political advocacy group Equality Florida has branded the bill a form of “moral panic” that will only “demonise LGBTQ[+] people”.

“Don’t Say LGBTQ+ policies have already resulted in sweeping censorship, book banning… and LGBTQ[+] families preparing to leave the state altogether,” the group stated.

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A photo of Florida governor Ron DeSantis wearing a navy suit, white shirt and red tie speaking at a podium
Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed Don’t Say Gay into law last year. (SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images/Paul Hennessy)

New research has found that Don’t Say Gay’s impact has been so harmful that the majority of LGBTQ+ parents have considered leaving Florida, whose hard-line Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has been accused of waging war on sections of the queer community.

Research from the UCLA School of Law found that 56 per cent of 113 parents surveyed said they considered moving away after the law was passed, with nine out of 10 admitting they were “concerned” about the effect of the legislation on their families.

The author of the study, Professor Abbie E Goldberg, said: “Legislation can have a negative impact on LGBTQ+ parent families by cultivating a climate of fear and insecurity.”

“For LGBTQ+ parents without the means to move or send their children to private schools, the stress that this legislation creates will be significant.”

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