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Florida GOP Rep Doubles Down on ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill That Would Out LGBTQIA Students to Parents and Others

Florida GOP Rep Doubles Down on ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill That Would Out LGBTQIA Students to Parents and Others

A proposed bill in Florida that would violate the First Amendment, HB 1557, says teachers, administrators, and other staff must contact parents about a student’s “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being, or a change in related services or monitoring” if their child comes out as LGBTQIA at school. And if those in the know don’t notify the student’s parents or guardian, the bill says, they can be sued.

The sponsor of the highly controversial and dangerous “Don’t Say Gay” bill is now doubling down on the “outing” provision of his legislation, which is expected to get a vote by the full State House on Tuesday. GOP State Rep Joe Harding has added a proposed amendment to his own bill, Florida Politics reports. Harding is a freshman lawmaker who has no background in education, child development, or LGBTQIA issues.

There is currently only one provision to protect at-risk children, which permits schools to opt from informing parents, “if a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.” Of those who seek help, 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQIA, often as a direct result of coming out or being outed to their parents. Coming out is a personal choice, and when kids turn to an adult other than a parent to confide in them, it’s an unspoken transmission that they aren’t ready to be out at home. To be outed in a public manner is potentially traumatizing to the student as well as their loved ones.

But Rep. Harding is apparently not concerned with the risk to school officials as well as students. He claims he would “like to ensure that at least one involved adult is told their child has come out as LGBTQ”. If the school has determined they should not be told because “a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect,” the parents within six weeks of not being told must be notified that the school has withheld information from them, according to his new amendment, which is essentially just delaying the trauma of coming out to their parents against their wishes.

The amendment says school officials must devise a “plan” to tell parents while protecting the child’s well-being, but does not give them any indication of what that would look like, or how to avoid likely hostility to the official and likely harm to the child.

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