A Republican legislator in Florida has withdrawn an amendment to his so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that would require schools to disclose whether a child is LGBT+ to their parents within six weeks of learning whether they are not straight, and appeared to remove protections for students who would have potentially been subject to abuse, abandonment or neglect by their families.
State Rep Joe Harding proposed the amendment on Friday and removed it as state legislators prepared to debate House Bill 1557 on Tuesday, amid international outrage and warnings from LGBT+ advocates that the legislation could endanger vulnerable children.
The widely criticized legislation proposes prohibiting schools from encouraging “classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.
The bill passed a Florida state legislative committee on 20 January.
A previous draft of the bill granted protections to students who shared personal information with school staff, which could include whether they are LGBT+, if “a reasonably prudent person would believe that such disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect”.
Under the new amendment, which has now been withdrawn, “the school principal or his or her designee shall develop a plan, using all available governmental resources, to disclose such information within [six] weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent.”
The full Florida House continues a question and answers session on 22 February, and a floor vote on the measure is expected on 24 February.
The bill is among more than a dozen state-level proposals to ban discussion of LGBT+ issues in classrooms, and among 150 state legislative proposals that discriminate against LGBT+ people, according to the ACLU.
Florida LGBT+ advocacy group Equality Florida alleges that the legislation is “meant to stigmatize LGBTQ people, isolate LGBTQ kids, and make teachers fearful of providing a safe, inclusive classroom.”
“The existence of LGBTQ students and parents is not a taboo topic that has to be regulated by the Florida Legislature,” the group said in a statement last month.