‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill passes Florida Senate

Senators Jennifer Bradley, of Orange Park, and Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, were the only two Republicans among the 17 who voted against the bill on Tuesday. The other 22 Republicans voted to pass the bill.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida senators passed the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill. It is better known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because it prohibits kindergarten through third-grade classroom “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Senators Jennifer Bradley, of Orange Park, and Jeff Brandes, of St. Petersburg, were the only two Republicans among the 17 who voted against the bill on Tuesday. The other 22 Republicans voted to pass the bill.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he is prepared to sign it into law. President Joe Biden condemned the bill as hateful to the LGBTQ+ community.

Efforts to amend the bill failed on Monday. Through tears, Florida Sen. Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones told his colleagues on the Senate floor on about his difficulties as an openly gay man. His courage received bipartisan applause.

“After taking 30 years of just wanting to make [my dad] and my mom proud ... I never knew that living my truth would cause church members to leave my dad’s church or friends to stop talking to me,” Jones said.

The Senate took up the House version of the bill on Monday after the Florida representatives passed it as HB 1557 on Feb. 24. Bryce Hackmeyer was among the student protesters who brought rainbows to Tallahassee to raise awareness.

“The issue that comes with ambiguous laws is the ability to execute them in the way that lawmakers choose,” said Bryce, who traveled from Broward County.

DeSantis’s press secretary, Christina Pushaw, used Twitter on Friday to label the opponents of the bill as “groomers,” the predatory act of making someone vulnerable to abusive behavior. It’s a decision that has Democrats calling for her resignation.

“The bill that liberals inaccurately call ‘Don’t Say Gay’ would be more accurately described as Anti-Grooming Bill,” Pushaw wrote, adding “If you’re against the anti-Grooming bill, you are probably a groomer or at least you don’t denounce the grooming of 4- to 8-year-old children. Silence is complicity. This is how it works, Democrats, and I didn’t make the rules.”

The White House released a statement last month: “Every parent hopes that our leaders will ensure their children’s safety, protection, and freedom. Today, conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that 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.”

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A close look at the 22-17 vote

List of 22 Florida senators who voted to pass the bill

  • Sen. Ben Albritton
  • Sen. Den Baxley
  • Sen. Aaron Bean
  • Sen. Jim Boyd
  • Sen. Jason Brodeur
  • Sen. Doug Broxson
  • Sen. Danny Burgess
  • Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr.
  • Sen. George Gainer
  • Sen. Ileana Garcia
  • Sen. Joe Gruters
  • Sen. Gayle Harrell
  • Sen. Ed Hooper
  • Sen. Travis Hutson
  • Sen. Debbie Mayfield
  • Sen. Kathleen Passidomo
  • Sen. Keith Perry
  • Sen. Wilton Simpson (President)
  • Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez
  • Sen. Ray Wesley Rodriguez
  • Sen. Kelli Stargel
  • Sen. Tom A. Wright

List of 17 Florida senators who voted against it

  • Sen. Linda Stewart
  • Sen. Annette Taddeo
  • Sen. Victor M. Torres, Jr.
  • Sen. Darryl Ervin Rouson
  • Sen. Jason W. B. Pizzo
  • Sen. Tina Scott Polsky
  • Sen. Bobby Powell
  • Sen. Shevrin D. “Shev” Jones
  • Sen. Audrey Gibson
  • Sen. Gary M. Farmer, Jr.
  • Sen. Janet Cruz
  • Sen. Randolph Bracy
  • Sen. Jennifer Bradley (Republican)
  • Sen. Jeff Brandes (Republican)
  • Sen. Lori Berman
  • Sen. Lauren Book
  • Sen. Loranne Ausley

Noon report

Florida senators passed the controversial Parental Rights in Education bill. The proposed law is better known by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Monday afternoon report

Through tears, Florida Sen. Shevrin Jones told his colleagues on the senate floor about his difficulties as an openly gay man who is having to witness the discussion of the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

This Week In South Florida: March 6, 2022

On the latest episode of This Week in South Florida, hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg are joined by State Rep. Joe Harding, Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Rep. Ted Deutch and Miami Police Chief Manny Morales.

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About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.