Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants Texas to replicate Florida’s controversial
law that prohibits schools from teaching about sexual orientation and
gender identity to students from kindergarten through the third grade.
In an email to campaign supporters late Monday, Patrick
said he would make the bill a “top priority” during the next legislative
session in January. The law has garnered backlash from Democrats and
civil rights advocates, who say the legislation marginalizes LGBTQ
students and may chill all discussion of sexuality in the classroom.
They call it the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
But Patrick said the measure “simply says schools cannot
sexualize children in elementary school.” Florida Republicans have said
the bill leaves discussions about sexual orientation and identity to
parents, rather than teachers.
Patrick’s promise to mimic the Florida law also targeted
Disney, which has publicly opposed the legislation and asked for its
repeal. The lieutenant governor is calling on Texans to boycott Disney
“until they change their corporate philosophy.”
“People must see what has been going on behind the Mickey
curtain,” Patrick wrote. “I know your kids and grandchildren will be
disappointed and may not understand. But, would you rather have them
indoctrinated by Disney radicals?”
Earlier Monday, Patrick released interim charges for the
state Senate, asking lawmakers to study various subjects over the next
several months before session begins. He’d included “parent empowerment”
in that list, asking the education committee to “make recommendations
to enable parents to exert a greater influence on their child’s learning
Patrick said that charge will allow legislators to get to
work on the new law later this year. The Florida version is being
challenged in court.
The lieutenant governor’s commitment to the “Don’t Say
Gay” law is Texas Republicans’ latest move to more tightly regulate what
is taught in public schools. Patrick’s charges also included a request
to review school library books, after GOP lawmakers asked districts to
remove “inappropriate” material covering sexuality and racism.
The Legislature approved a bill last year limiting the
way K-12 teachers discuss racism in the classroom, and Patrick has
suggested firing public university professors who teach “critical race
The proposal also comes as civil rights advocates fight
other Texas policies that target LGBTQ children. Last month, Gov. Greg
Abbott directed the state’s child welfare agency to open child abuse
investigations into families who provide gender-affirming care, such as
hormone therapies, to their transgender children.
A court has temporarily stopped those investigations, but
litigation is ongoing. Texas has initiated at least nine inquiries so