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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Lawmaker Says A Book didn't Make him Gay during Debate about LGBTQ Topics in School

During Florida debate about LGBTQ topics being taught in schools, Sen. Shevrin Jones asserts that literature had no influence on his sexuality.

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Image for article titled Lawmaker Says A Book didn't Make him Gay during Debate about LGBTQ Topics in School
Screenshot: Steve Cannon (AP)

Florida’s debate over LGBTQ topics being taught in schools drew one lawmaker to confront a remark from a parent who claimed the subject has an agenda, reported Newsweek. The hearing centered on the Senate Bill 1300 which revises the salaries of district school board members and also mandates a review of materials school departments select for schools and libraries.

At the hearing, Karen Moran from the group BEST SOS America raised concerns about a particular book she claimed was available in Palm Beach County Libraries. Newsweek’s research of the library system found no copies. The book It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity by Theresa Thorn is a picture book for young readers about the concept of gender identity.

From Newsweek:

“It’s causing gender confusion with our kids and it should not be in our libraries and we should not be funding this and we should get all these books out,” Moran told the committee, of which Jones is the vice-chair.

“This bill is a great method to get these books out and make people aware of what’s going on,” she said about Senate Bill 1300, which the hearing centered on.

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Senator Shevrin Jones, the first openly gay Black person elected to Florida’s legislature, responded to Moran’s claim saying no book influenced his identity and sexuality. “As a gay man, to sit here in committee, to hear that—There was no book that I read that brought me to who I am. And even your children—I don’t care what you may try to do to think that you are protecting them...the one thing you are obligated to do, like my father and mother did, is to love them for who they are,” said Jones.

Jones also advised the ones speaking against the book to be mindful of who their words may offend and to advocate for their children without harming anyone else’s. Jone’s colleagues cut to the chase and told the parents if they’re unhappy, they can place their children elsewhere.

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From Newsweek:

Although Jones stopped short of instructing parents to move their kids out of public schools as a solution to their unhappiness with the books available in their districts, some of his colleagues, like Democratic state Senator Tina Polsky, did not hold back.

“You have a choice. If you don’t like what you see in the schools... then don’t go. Then homeschool your kid,” she said at the hearing. “If you want them insulated so much that they shouldn’t learn about the outside world, you can homeschool or you can send them to a religious private school with voucher money. We have made that immensely available.”

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The bill advanced forward by the end of the hearing with a majority Republican vote. Though some Republicans disagreed with the section of the bill regarding the monitoring of school materials. Sen. Travis Hutson considered censorship as a problem being parents are almost directly involved in choosing school curriculum, via WSFU News.

Florida has definitely led the initiative with restricting the teachings of race and sexuality. What will they ban next week?