‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes Florida Senate

Florida senators passed the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill. It is better known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it prohibits kindergarten through third-grade classroom “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Senators Jennifer Bradley, of Orange Park, and Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, were the only two Republicans among the 17 who voted against the bill on Tuesday. The other 22 Republicans voted to pass the bill.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he is prepared to sign it into law. President Joe Biden condemned the bill as hateful to the LGBTQ+ community.

Efforts to amend the bill failed on Monday. Through tears, Florida Sen. Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones told his colleagues on the Senate floor on about his difficulties as an openly gay man. His courage received bipartisan applause.

“After taking 30 years of just wanting to make [my dad] and my mom proud … I never knew that living my truth would cause church members to leave my dad’s church or friends to stop talking to me,” Jones said.

The Senate took up the House version of the bill on Monday after the Florida representatives passed it as HB 1557 on Feb. 24. Bryce Hackmeyer was among the student protesters who brought rainbows to Tallahassee to raise awareness.

“The issue that comes with ambiguous laws is the ability to execute them in the way that lawmakers choose,” said Bryce, who traveled from Broward County.

DeSantis’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, used Twitter on Friday to label the opponents of the bill as “groomers,” the predatory act of making someone vulnerable to abusive behavior. It’s a decision that has Democrats calling for her resignation.

“The bill that liberals inaccurately call ‘Don’t Say Gay’ would be more accurately described as Anti-Grooming Bill,” Pushaw wrote, adding “If you’re against the anti-Grooming bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4- to 8-year-old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”

The White House released a statement last month: “Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection, and freedom. Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most – LGBTQI+ students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and violence just for being themselves.”

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A close look at the 22-17 vote

List of 22 Florida senators who voted to pass the bill

Sen. Ben AlbrittonSen. Den BaxleySen. Aaron BeanSen. Jim BoydSen. Jason BrodeurSen. Doug BroxsonSen. Danny BurgessSen. Manny Diaz, Jr.Sen. George GainerSen. Ileana GarciaSen. Joe GrutersSen. Gayle HarrellSen. Ed HooperSen. Travis HutsonSen. Debbie MayfieldSen. Kathleen PassidomoSen. Keith PerrySen. Wilton Simpson (President)Sen. Ana Maria RodriguezSen. Ray Wesley RodriguezSen. Kelli StargelSen. Tom A. Wright

List of 17 Florida senators who voted against it

Sen. Linda StewartSen. Annette TaddeoSen. Victor M. Torres, Jr.Sen. Darryl Ervin RousonSen. Jason W. B. PizzoSen. Tina Scott PolskySen. Bobby PowellSen. Shevrin D. “Shev” JonesSen. Audrey GibsonSen. Gary M. Farmer, Jr.Sen. Janet CruzSen. Randolph BracySen. Jennifer Bradley (Republican)Sen. Jeff Brandes (Republican)Sen. Lori BermanSen. Lauren BookSen. Loranne AusleyRead More

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