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Florida advances bills against defamation and gender identity

By 03/15/2023 10:22 AMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

On Tuesday, Florida Republicans passed a proposal to extend the divisive “Don’t Say Gay” rule to include eighth-grade classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Before proceeding to the entire House, the bill still needs to pass another committee after being passed by a House subcommittee.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who frequently criticizes what he refers to as “old media,” prioritized a bill that would make it simpler to sue journalists for defamation, and a different House subcommittee approved it.

The education proposal would also forbid requiring faculty, staff, or students to use inappropriate pronouns for the person’s gender.

The so-called Don’t Say Gay rule forbids teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, bringing Florida under heavy international criticism last year.

DeSantis has been a passionate defender of the law as part of his crusade against what he terms “woke ideology” in education.

He has leaned heavily into this position as he prepares to announce his anticipated presidential bid.

The measure voted on Tuesday would extend the prohibition on discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom, including prekindergarten through eighth-grade students.

Also, the measure forbids personnel from using their preferred pronouns and prohibits schools from requesting students’ preferred pronouns.

A legislative amendment that would have permitted teachers to use a student’s preferred pronoun provided a parent offered Republicans on the committee rejected official consent.

“This bill is opposed to liberty and freedom. It has nothing to do with children’s rights or parental rights. Making political points is the goal. Angie Nixon, a Democrat in Congress, stated, “It’s all about power and control.

Democrats said the defamation measure would weaken media and speech safeguards in the United States. In what was deemed an abuse of power, the Constitution was violated.

As part of a defamation case, claims made by an anonymous source would be presumed to be untrue unless a reporter identifies who the source is, according to legislation proposed by Republican Rep. Alex Andrade.

He argued that this does not preclude people from criticizing politicians and others but rather that the media cannot intentionally harm someone by spreading inaccurate information.

Because calling me a murderer was the simplest way to express their opinion of my COVID policy, Andrade claimed he couldn’t bring a defamation lawsuit against them.

“It’s just a disgusting, absurd, and juvenile statement. America gives you the right to make mistakes.

A long line of speakers from organizations, including the Florida Press Association and the First Amendment Foundation, encouraged lawmakers to vote against the defamation bill, claiming it would have a chilling effect on the media.

Republicans, according to Democratic Rep. Daryl Campbell, typically work to make it more difficult for consumers to sue private firms.

Additionally, he said that the plan would impair journalists’ capacity to conduct an investigative inquiry.

“It encourages lawsuits in a Legislature whose purpose up to now… has been to limit litigation,” Democratic Rep. Daryl Campbell said.

“This is an abuse of authority and a violation of the freedoms of the press, of expression, and of Florida and American constitutional law.”



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