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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants Texas version of Florida law that critics dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” bill

The Florida law prohibits teachers from teaching sexual orientation or gender identity to kids below the fourth grade.
Credit: Lauren Witte/The Texas Tribune
Kids hold flags and wear heart stickers and beads at the Austin Independent School District’s “Pride Out!” party in Austin last month. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants a Texas law similar to Florida legislation limiting classroom lessons about LGBTQ people..

TEXAS, USA — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Monday he will prioritize passing Texas legislation that mimics the recently signed Florida bill referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

That state’s controversial law prohibits classroom lessons on sexual orientation or gender identity for kids below the fourth grade or any instruction that is not “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for older students. It has come under heavy scrutiny as opponents of the bill say it will harm LGBTQ children.

RELATED: What does Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill actually do?

While Texas’ next legislative session doesn’t start until January, the issue will be addressed in Education Committee hearings before then, Patrick said in a campaign email.

“I will make this law a top priority in the next session,” he said.

Patrick’s office did not immediately respond to a request late Monday.

Enforcing Florida’s law falls to parents, much like Texas’ restrictive abortion law, Senate Bill 8, which empowers private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

A parent can sue a school district for damages if they believe it has broken the law. If they win, parents will receive money and recoup attorney fees. In Florida, the law’s supporters portrayed it as a way to give more rights to parents. Gov. Greg Abbott has similarly said parents should have more rights concerning their children’s education as he campaigns for a third term.

RELATED: Texas students push back against book bans for censoring LGBTQ, racial justice issues

Florida’s law also requires school districts to notify parents about health services offered at the school and the option to decline such services. Schools must also inform parents of any health-related questionnaires or health screening forms that may be given to any kindergarten through third-grade student.

Patrick’s announcement comes on the heels of a Republican-led spree to limit what can be taught in schools about race and American history, restrict what books about race and sexuality appear on library shelves and criminalize gender-affirming health care for transgender children, even treatment medical experts support.

This story comes from The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

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