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Florida Voters Split on Proposed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

A deep partisan divide exists over the bill that would limit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in state schools, with 63 percent of Democrats against the measure while 54 percent of Republicans approve.

(TNS) — Florida voters are split over the Republican proposal to limit discussions of sexual orientation or gender identity in the state’s schools.

A University of Florida poll released Tuesday showed voters are divided — 49 percent strongly or somewhat disapproved of the legislation and 40 percent somewhat or strongly approved.

The overall number doesn’t tell the complete picture: there is a deep partisan divide.

The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is among several social issues — including banning abortions after 15 weeks and limiting discussions of race in schools and employer training — that the Republicans who control Florida government are advancing in this year’s state legislative session.

Under the measure, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by people in the LGBTQ community and many Democrats, “a school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”

Parents could sue a school district for what they claim are violations.

Among Democrats, 63 percent disapprove and 26 percent approve. Among Republicans, 38 percent disapprove and 54 percent approve. Among no party affiliation/independent/minor party voters 45 percent disapprove and 40 percent approve.

Disapproval among women is stronger than disapproval among men. And men are more supportive of the idea than women.

Women: 53 percent disapprove, 38 percent approve. Men: 45 percent disapprove; 43 percent approve.

The vague nature of the wording has prompted alarm from LGBTQ activists and Democrats in the Florida Legislature, and condemnation from President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is a married gay man and father.

A White House statement said the legislation “is designed to target and attack the kids who need support the most — LGBTQI+ students, who are already vulnerable to bullying and violence just for being themselves.”

A sponsor of the legislation, State Rep. Joe Harding, R- Williston, said last week restricting sex- and gender-related instruction in younger grade levels is appropriate, adding that “at those ages” school lessons should be focused on reading, math and other basic academic subjects.

Republicans said the Parental Rights in Education proposal (HB 1557 and SB 1834) isn’t aimed at being discriminatory but seeks to prevent instruction that younger students aren’t ready to receive.

But Democrats argued the bill is overly vague and that the provision requiring instruction on sex and gender to be “age appropriate” could be applied to any grade level.

The Fine Print

The results come from a University of North Florida survey of 685 Florida registered voters conducted by live interviewers calling landlines and cell phones from Feb. 7-20. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The sample sizes for subgroups — such as Democrats and Republicans or gender — are smaller, so the margin of error is higher.

Pollster ratings from give UNF an A/B rating based on the historical accuracy and methodology of its polls.

©2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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