Florida Representative Anna Eskamani has been a frequent critic of the provision of the Parental Rights in Education bill, which discourages discussions about gender identity issues in primary grades. However, when given the opportunity, she has refused to answer questions about the parental rights aspect of the proposed legislation.
Recently, Eskamani told CNN that she “wholeheartedly opposes” the legislation, affirming that “it’s always appropriate to acknowledge that LGBTQ+ people and families exist, and any effort to erase them is rooted in homophobia and transphobia.”
Eskamani and other progressive leaders and organizations have labeled the proposal the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, based on a provision that prohibits a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels.
State Representative Carlos Guillermo-Smith (D-District 49), an openly LGBTQ Latino legislator, said, “We should and we are encouraging these types of conversations in our schools.”
However, the bill addresses a number of issues related to parental rights.
For example, the bill provides additional requirements for school districts to notify parents if there is a change in their student’s services or monitoring in relation to their student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.
In addition, the bill requires school districts to adopt procedures that reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their children. The procedures must require school district personnel to encourage a student to discuss issues relating to his or her well-being with his or her parent, or to seek permission to discuss or facilitate discussion of the issue with the parent.
The bill attempts to address school policies related to parental rights and student confidentiality which have been implemented inconsistently by school boards in Florida.
The Florida Capital Star, after communicating with Eskamani’s legislative aide last week, sent the following questions:
Is there any part of the House Parental Rights in Education bill you agree with? If so, a brief description of those provisions and why?
Do you believe that students have a right to privacy related to their parents when sharing information with school officials? If so, does this right apply to elementary, middle school, and high school students equally?
Do you believe that teachers should be responsible for implementing school policies related to LGBTQ issues or should this responsibility fall to an on-campus guidance counselor?
After the questions were submitted, communications with Eskamani’s office ceased.
The Parental Rights in Education bill will be heard in the Florida Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, February 8.
– – –