by Bryan Avila , Joe Harding
February 25, 2022
It’s been said that a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. That’s certainly true for Florida House bills 1557 and 7, characterized as “Don’t Say Gay” and “censoring history.”
From “news” articles to “expert” commentary on Twitter, there have been so many lies about our bills that it’s now painfully obvious that hardly anyone has actually read the legislation.
We’ve stood by as reporters parroted ridiculous phrases and false monikers from the Left as gospel without checking their source material. Newspapers and Tweeters have gotten their clicks and engagement with these exaggerated perspectives. But now it’s time to set the record straight.
First, let’s address the fact that just about every newspaper headline has called HB 1557 the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. You know what’s not in any of the bill text? The words “gay” and “say.”
Do you think teachers should instruct 5 and 6-year-olds about sexual orientation and gender identity in our schools? If you said “no,” then you agree with HB 1557, which protects our youngest students from this kind of ridiculous notion. We think we represent most parents when we say that those conversations should be reserved for when parents decide to have them with their kids.
Furthermore, HB 1557 empowers parents to play an active and present role in their child’s schooling by ensuring they have access to records and a role in decisions about mental health and other services for their kids.
Likewise, we see similar lies about House Bill 7. The bill does not ignore or whitewash history, as is frequently misreported; it does the opposite. We expect important history lessons about slavery, the Holocaust, and the suffrage struggle to be taught—and our laws require it. In the bill, we even outline a vision for “Stories of Inspiration” to be told in a new curriculum, highlighting extraordinary Americans who overcame all odds, including racial and other barriers, to make history.
Would you agree that all people are created equal and that no person is better than another solely based on race, sex, or national origin? If you said “yes,” then you agree with the values outlined in HB 7, which say those should help make up a framework for classroom instruction.
When someone is studying racism and other ugly parts of history, we should and do feel uncomfortable. But that does not mean that our kids should be instructed to feel guilt, anguish, or personal responsibility because of their race, origin, or sex for the sins of the past or of others.
HB 7 helps prevent this from happening by providing teachers with a clear and unifying framework to teach the facts about history, current events, and more, and not divisive ideologies.
This is not controversial stuff—81 percent of parents agree they should have a say in what their school teaches and 84 percent of principals and teachers want more family engagement. And it shouldn’t require polling data to say that everyone can agree that all people are created equal.
Parents and school officials all need to work together to create a supportive learning environment at both school and home. These bills are intended to unify and integrate teaching and care between the student, parent, and school officials. House Bills 7 and 1557 include measures that can be universally agreed upon to provide the transparency and guidelines necessary to create the best educational environment for all of Florida’s children.
Instead of reading what is actually in the bills, many reporters and critics have relied on caustic and divisive statements of the bills’ detractors for clickbait. It’s clear we can’t trust the media to tell the truth about our legislative proposals. Both bills having passed the Florida House today, focus now turns to the Florida Senate. We encourage you to read the bills for yourself at myfloridahouse.gov.
Florida House Representative Bryan Avila is a Republican lawmaker from Miami Springs and Speaker pro tempore of the Florida House. He is the sponsor of HB 7, Individual Freedoms. Florida House Representative Joe Harding is a freshman Republican lawmaker from Ocala. He is the sponsor of HB 1557, Parental Rights in Education.