This is Pastor Tim’s article published in the Evening Leader on Monday, April 4, 2022
What is this new legislation in Florida that has the whole world up in arms? I was planning to ignore this as nothing but political noise, but then this week, Disney has pledged to use their influence to stop the legislation that has been referred to as the “Don’t say gay” bill. If a company that exists for the sole purpose of entertaining children is so passionately against a piece of legislation, then I thought maybe I should go investigate it.
I went to the Florida Senate website. At the top, there is a place to type in the number of a bill to read it. If you go to the Florida Senate website and enter 1557 in the bill number, you can read all about this proposal for yourself.
The actual name of the bill is “Parental Rights in Education.” It is only 7 pages long and it is an easy read. There are 7 points in the bill, 6 of which deal directly with parents being involved in decision-making and responsibility for their children. If the child discloses something of a personal nature, parents are to be informed within a designated time unless a “reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.” That is a quote from the bill itself.
There is no reason why sensible parents should be kept out of the loop on what is going on in their child’s life. If there is some change in the child’s wellbeing or performance or any other red flag, particularly if the child discloses something to a teacher, keeping that information from a parent is not helping the child. If the child discloses something already illegal about the parent, that is different, but having outside adults encourage children to keep secrets from parents is a recipe for disaster.
I said keeping parents involved in what is happening with their children encompasses 6 of the 7 points in the bill. The point that apparently has become a point of contention is point #3. I am going to quote all of point 3 here:
“Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
This must be where the bill got its reputation for “don’t say gay” because there is no other mention of sexual orientation or gender identity anywhere in the bill except in regard to not teaching children ages 5-9 about sexual orientation or gender identity.
Be honest, does this sound like education: Adults having conversations about sexual orientation or gender identity with 7-year-old children who are not related to them while encouraging them to not tell their parents? I am not buying it. This sounds like grooming to me. Grooming is what child predators do when preparing a child to become a victim.
I am willing to grant that most of the people who are opposed to this bill are people who haven’t read it. They are just opposed to it because of what someone told them. The people I am struggling to come to terms with are the people who have read it and still oppose it. Are we ok that we live in a day and age where a bill is controversial when it is designed to protect little kids from sexual conversations they are in no way ready to have?
I am glad Governor Ron DeSantis signed this bill into law in Florida. I don’t really see Mike DeWine being willing to do a similar thing here in Ohio, but if he did, he would have my support.