Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Harding amendment axed, but LGBTQ advocates say 'Don't Say Gay' bill hurts student privacy. (Tallahassee Democrat)

Florida's functional equivalent of England's "Monster Raving Loony Partty,'" ugly, stark and raw," is now in the throes of its biennial fit of passing political pandering bills in the midst of a pandemic the GQP has exacerbated. 

Sadistic Dull Republicans never have a happy day. 

"Culture war" (Justice Antonin Scalia called it "Kulturkampf") is for misguided energumen -- Dull Republicans with hatred in their hearts, disrespect for human rights and the right to privacy, and contempt for the Rule of Law.  

Ask questions, demand answers and expect democracy.  

Give no quarter to bigots.

Vote them out, early and often.

From Tallahassee Democrat:

Harding amendment axed, but LGBTQ advocates say 'Don't Say Gay' bill hurts student privacy

One critic called the measure 'a disgusting, unfettered attack on LGBTQ youth'

Ana Goñi-Lessan
Tallahassee Democrat

Ezra Lamb’s mother found out her trans son was queer when the vice principal of his Tampa-area public high school called during her lunch break.

The vice-principal told Lamb’s mother that he was in trouble for being affectionate with another girl at school, and that the two would be suspended.

“My mom was completely embarrassed,” said Lamb, who was assigned female at birth and came out as trans in his 20s.

More on the bill:'Don't Say Gay' bill raises concerns among Florida LGBTQ community and allies

One day, a faculty member caught Lamb and his high school girlfriend holding hands in the hallway and told them if they were smart, they would stand a couple of feet apart.

Later, Lamb and his high school girlfriend were suspended for “willful disobedience,” as Lamb called it, for refusing to stand the distance faculty had requested.

“We told you not to be queer, and you didn’t listen,” was what Lamb said he got out of that conversation.

Lamb has told his story many times over the years, each time to shocked faces that something like that could happen in Florida. Now Lamb worries what happened to him will become the standard, thanks to what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill (HB 1557).

“I was on the path to be a star student, and everything got taken away from me,” he said about being suspended. “I was kicked out of honors societies. I wasn’t allowed to be featured in the yearbook as a good student. The vice-principal shook my hand at graduation and said, ‘Who would have thought we made it here?’ ”

An amendment to the bill by its sponsor, GOP state Rep. Joe Harding of Williston, that would have required schools to out kids after six weeks even when abuse, abandonment or neglect was reasonably expected was withdrawn Tuesday afternoon after public criticism that the amendment would endanger kids.

Harding amendment pulled:Lawmaker behind Florida 'Don't Say Gay' bill yanks amendment requiring schools to out students

Jon Harris Mauer, public policy director for Equality Florida, said he's heard concerns about the amendment from legislators on both sides of the aisle. 

"They have withdrawn this amendment but have made clear they are willing to take a disgusting, unfettered attack on LGBTQ youth. In response to public pressure, this particular amendment was withdrawn, but there are many steps left in this process and we have to stay vigilant," Mauer said.

Harding and other proponents say the bill will empower parents to be involved in conversations about their students' sexual identity. But opponents like Lamb and Mauer say schools may be the only safe place for kids to talk about their sexuality, and the legislation will hurt kids who aren't ready to come out.

Naples Pride marched on 5th Ave. Friday, February 18, 2022, to protest the "Don't Say Gay" Bill. The group first met on the steps of the Collier County Courthouse to deliver a petition to Senator Passidomo's office. They then met at Cambier Park to protest down Fifth Avenue.

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