Myth vs. Fact: Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill (HB 1557)

February 23, 2022

The Left and their media allies are smearing the provisions in Florida's Parental Rights in Education Bill (HB 1557) by spreading misconceptions and flat-out lies about the bill. They aim to paint the bill’s supporters as bigots to lay the groundwork for a far-Left agenda that locks parents out of the decision-making process when it comes to their children’s major life decisions.

The truth is that moms and dads—not teachers and school administrators—know their children best. HB 1557 simply provides much-needed transparency in public schools and puts parents back at the helm of their kids’ education, giving them the tools to decide what is best for their own children.

Here are the facts (Download a pdf version here):

MYTH 1: Florida's Parental Rights in Education Bill bans the word “gay” in schools.

Contrary to media hype, HB 1557 does not ban the word “gay” from the classroom. Rather, it protects kindergarteners to third-graders from teachers and other school officials who seek to sexualize children at very young ages. The bill would prevent school personnel from pushing planned instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity issues in kindergarten through third grade or in contexts that are not age-appropriate in later grades. The bill does not prohibit organic conversations between students and teachers, nor does it prohibit age-appropriate discussion of social issues including sexual orientation if it is in accordance with state standards.

MYTH 2: HB 1557 forces teachers to “out” students.

HB 1557 does not force teachers to “out” students who have private discussions with teachers. The bill does reinforce the fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing and control of their minor children and affirms that school districts may not adopt procedures that prohibit parents from accessing any of their student's education and health records.

HB 1557 also states that school district personnel must “​​encourage a student to discuss issues relating to his or her well-being with his or her parent or to facilitate discussion of the issue with the parent.” This would address situations like one that occurred in Tallahassee, Florida, last year, when school officials directed a young female student to pursue a gender transition, knowingly concealed their actions from her parents, and even discussed restroom preferences and name changes without her parents’ consent or knowledge. The transparency provisions in this bill would help ensure parents are informed and prevent these situations from ever happening again in the Sunshine State.

HB 1557 recognizes that children learn best when their parents are empowered. The bill allows parents to work concurrently and transparently with the school district.

MYTH 3: HB 1557 will open the door to frivolous lawsuits against school districts.

HB 1557 creates a cause of action for parents against a school district that violates the provisions of the bill, but it also creates a new avenue for parents to resolve disputes without a need to file a lawsuit.

Within 30 days of a parent filing a complaint to the school principal, the school district must resolve the concern or provide a statement to the parent of their reasons for not resolving the concern. The parent may then request the Commissioner of Education appoint a special magistrate to determine the facts of the dispute and render a recommended decision to the State Board of Education to either reject or approve at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

The bottom line:

Florida parents have the right to be aware of and involved in crucial decisions regarding their children. Parents have the responsibility to ensure their children’s wellbeing — they do not lose their rights or responsibilities when they enroll their children in public school. Additionally, public schools do not have the right to teach inappropriate sexual content to children as young as five.

While the media and Left-wing advocacy groups have spread misinformation surrounding this bill, it is a common-sense measure that all parents should support. The bill would restore the rights of millions of parents and restore classrooms to their proper mission: education, not indoctrination.