North Central Florida Republican Senator explains why she voted against the Parental Rights in Education bill

NCFL Senator discusses "Don't Say Gay" bill
Published: Apr. 16, 2022 at 12:31 AM EDT
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CROSS CITY, Fla. (WCJB) -One of the few Republican Florida Senators to vote against the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill is from the same region as the bill’s sponsors. TV20 caught up with Sen. Jennifer Bradley of Lake City while she attended a press conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis in Dixie County on Friday.

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Bradley clarified her vote against the legislation was not because the law bans discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity. Instead, the senator had issues with empowering parents to sue the school districts.

“The bill had a cause of action that would have subjected a lot of these fiscally constrained school districts to the prospect of a lot of litigation by our trial lawyers,” said Bradley. “That’s something that concerned me, I wanted to see some of that language changed. It didn’t get changed before the session ended and ultimately it was something I couldn’t support.

The law gives parents two options when they believe a school district has violated the provisions of the legislation. Parents can request the Commissioner of Education appoint a special magistrate to resolve the dispute, with the school district bearing the cost. Parents can also bring legal action against the school district to obtain a declaratory judgment. In that case, a court may award damages, attorney fees, and court costs.

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The legislation was sponsored by North Central Florida lawmakers Sen. Dennis Baxley of Ocala and Rep. Joe Harding of Williston who are both Republicans like Bradley.

Democratic Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson of Gainesville also voted “no” on the bill. DeSantis signed the bill into law on March 28 and it takes effect on July 1.

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The law states: “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

It also requires schools to notify parents if there is a “change in the student’s services or monitoring related to the student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being and the school’s ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the student.”

“You’re gonna withhold information about my student’s eating disorder, or the fact that my student is a bully or is being bullied in any of those cases... that is a blanket covered in Florida that a school district is not going to withhold anything they’re doing related to any of those issues from the parent,” said Harding during an interview in February.

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