Tallahassee, FL — A new bill filed in the Florida legislature would expand restrictions under the Parental Rights in Education act to the 8th grade as well as limit the use of pronouns in an educational setting if passed in this year's legislative session. 

The eight-page bill as currently written would instruct every school in the state from Kindergarten through high school to adopt a policy that asserts that a person's sex is an "immutable biological trait," and also forbid using someone's "false" pronouns based on that policy. 

The second provision in the law says that contractors or employees of educational institutions in the state may not use their pronouns if those pronouns do not correlate to their assigned sex at birth. Addtionally, the current language of the bill forbids a school employee or contractor from using their pronouns if they differ from their assigned sex at birth. Similarly, a student may not be asked to provide their preferred pronouns, and states that no student may be punished for choosing to not provide their preferred pronouns in an educational setting. 

In addition to governing the use of pronouns in schools, the bill also would expand the gender- and sexuality-based restrictions placed on educators under the Parental Rights in Education Act. Last year, the legislature passed, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law, the bill that prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through grade three. Beyond grade three, that instruction must be deemed age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate by state standards.

Under the proposed law, those restrictions would expand to include up to the 8th grade and also include Pre-K classrooms, leaving high school grades as the only ones in Florida schools not explicitly listed in state legislation, if passed. 

Equality Florida Action, Inc. was one of the first groups to denounce the proposal, criticizing the bill's "fake moral panic." 

“Don’t Say LGBTQ policies have already resulted in sweeping censorship, book banning, rainbow Safe Space stickers being peeled from classroom windows, districts refusing to recognize LGBTQ History Month, and LGBTQ families preparing to leave the state altogether.  This legislation is about a fake moral panic, cooked up by Governor DeSantis to demonize LGBTQ people for his own political career,” said Equality Florida Public Policy Director Jon Harris Maurer. “Governor DeSantis and the lawmakers following him are hellbent on policing language, curriculum, and culture.  Free states don’t ban books or people.”

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Adam Anderson, who was elected to the legislature as a State Representative in the 2022 election cycle. 

The Parental Rights in Education Act was widely criticized last year, and critics dubbed the measure the "Don't Say Gay" bill as it worked its way through the halls of the capitol. The bill was described as banning the word “gay” from public schools, even though the bill only calls for a ban on discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in the K-3 grade levels or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Spectrum News reached out to Rep. Anderson for a comment on the bill.

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