Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants to pursue a Florida-style “don’t say gay” bill in Texas in the next legislative session, according to a campaign email Monday.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill March 28. The legislation – called the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, but called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by opponents – prohibits classroom teaching about sexual orientation or gender identity for students from kindergarten through third grade or “in a manner that is not appropriate to the age or development of the students”.
“I will make this law a top priority in the next session,” Patrick said in the email.
The campaign and Patrick’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Opponents of the law include President Joe Biden, LGBTQ groups and a number of celebrities.
Patrick’s email was aimed at The Walt Disney Company. Disney released a statement condemning the law the day it was signed, saying it “should never have been passed and should never have been signed into law.” The company had been criticized by employees for not doing more to oppose the bill.
“Our goal as a company is to see this law repealed by the legislature or struck down by the courts, and we remain committed to supporting national and state organizations working to achieve this,” Disney said in the statement.
In Monday’s email, Patrick said he was angered by the company’s “exaggerated resistance to a Florida law that simply says that schools cannot sexualize children in elementary school.” Patrick called on the Senate Education Committee to address the issue in interim hearings ahead of the legislative session that begins in January.
Opponents of the bill say its vague language will lead to teachers not talking about gender inclusion in classrooms at any grade level, according to the Miami Herald. DeSantis said the legislation was intended to uphold parental rights, the newspaper reported.
Patrick, a Republican, is running for re-election and left the March primary without a runoff. His general election opponent has not been set as Democrats Mike Collier and Michelle Beckley vie for a place in the November ballot in the May 24 runoff.
Lisa Daly, secretary of PFLAG Fort Worth, an organization for LGBTQ people, their families and allies, said she believes laws like Florida’s are meant to eradicate LGBTQ children by not recognizing them. She thinks good teachers would quit and children would be traumatized by politics.
She wants elected officials to focus on issues like the power grid, the environment and teacher shortages “instead of wasting their time and energy going after the least of us LGBT kids. “.
Ricardo Martinez, chief executive of Equality Texas, said the group will fight to ensure a bill like Florida’s does not pass in the next legislative session.
“We know that LGBTQ people are part of every community in Texas, and that includes every school, every family, and bills that stigmatize and isolate LGBTQ students and teachers hurt classroom cohesion and undermine the process. necessary learning that takes place in schools,” he said. “No teacher should be afraid to provide a safe and inclusive classroom.”
The Star-Telegram contacted Tarrant County state lawmakers about Patrick’s email, including Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, Rep. Jeff Cason , R-Bedford, Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, Rep. David Cook, R-Mansfield, Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth and Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake. They did not respond to requests for comment.
Sen. Beverly Powell, D-Burleson, Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, and Rep. Nichole Collier, D-Fort Worth, declined to comment. House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, also declined to comment. A representative from Sen. Jane Nelson’s office, R-Flower Mound, said the senator was traveling but would send a statement if he could get one.
Senator Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, said in a statement: ‘Parents’ right to teach their children about sensitive topics like sexual orientation when and how they see fit should not even be put in jeopardy. question, but this fundamental, family-first principle is under attack. Anyone who reads the legislation will see that the slogan “don’t say gay” is false advertising about a law that simply improves communication between schools and families and keeps formal instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation out of the way. of the classroom for young children in third grade. and lower.”
The legislation includes measures relating to notification to parents of the mental, emotional and physical health or well-being of their child.
State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, also argued for “parental rights” in a statement texted to the Star-Telegram.
“The radical left seeks to undermine families and their values by attempting to impose political propaganda and age-inappropriate material on young children,” Klick said. “Parents must be in the driver’s seat of these decisions, and I will continue to fight for their right to have the final say in their child’s upbringing and upbringing.”
She did not immediately return a message asking for examples of cases where children have been forced into inappropriate material.
Rep. Chris Turner, a Democrat from Grand Prairie who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement that Patrick can always be counted on “to find a new hateful cause to waste time on, instead of focusing on the real issues that matter to Texans.”
Rep. Ramon Romero, Jr., D-Fort Worth, has expressed concerns about new restrictions creating teacher shortages following the passage of a so-called “Critical Race Theory Act” dealing with how race and racism can be taught in elementary school in Texas and the removal of books from school libraries.
“These conservative fringe issues like the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation only serve to win Republican primaries and damage the reputation of our state,” Romero said in a texted statement. “And it’s no coincidence what marginalized groups these laws affect.”
This story was originally published April 5, 2022 9:52 a.m.