A large group of South Florida high school students held a walkout Wednesday morning to protest a bill that would limit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade in the state.
The students from Cypress Bay High School in Weston walked out of the school shortly after 9 a.m. and gathered on the football field.
It was one of several walk outs being held to protest the measure, with students saying it was their chance to speak out against the bill.
"I really felt good and strong advocating for our rights and I really think kids should be educated on the subject because there’s kids who aren’t comfortable speaking about gay and their sexuality at home because there are parents that aren’t that accepting," said one student, Lucas. "Fortunately, I have parents that are accepting of me and the way I am but they have the right to be comfortable in school."
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The bill, which activists have named the "Don't Say Gay" bill, was passed by Florida's legislature on Tuesday and now moves to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has indicated he'll sign it.
The bill 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.” Parents would be able to sue districts over violations.
The measure has drawn intense opposition from LGBTQ advocates, students, national Democrats, the White House and the entertainment industry, who claim it marginalizes LGBTQ people.
Republican Rep. Joe Harding, who sponsored the measure, and other GOP lawmakers in Florida have argued that parents should be broaching these subjects with their children, rather than educators. It would not bar spontaneous discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools but instead is intended to prevent districts from integrating the subjects into official curriculum, Harding and supporters have said.