Florida Has an ‘Opt Out’ Bill for 2020

We found this in the Destin Log of Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Their headline is Florida Senate panel backs ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights,′ requires schools to share information, and they have a comments feature — with no comments yet. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

A Senate panel on Monday narrowly backed a proposal to allow parents to keep their children out of class on days when subjects they may disagree with are taught — including evolution [Are you surprised?], sex education and human influence on climate. The bill (SB 1634) — filed by Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland — cleared the Senate Education Committee on a party-line 3-2 vote. It has one more committee to go before it can be debated on the Senate floor.

Here’s the bill’s info at the Florida Senate’s website: 1634: Parental Rights. It was introduced on 09 January, passed by the Judiciary Committee on 04 February, and then passed by the Education Committee on 17 February. Here’s the bill’s text. M’god — it’s 11 pages long! Let’s get back to the news story, which says:

Stargel [the bill’s sponsor] told the panel her bill will ensure parents have a fundamental right to “direct the upbringing, education and care of their children. There’s this impression out there if a parent isn’t parenting in a way that somebody believes they should, (then) they should be removed and replaced by the state,” Stargel said. She argued, however, that the bill does not accord parents’ any rights they don’t already have. Rather, it requires those rights be spelled out in state law, especially by school districts.

Here’s Stargel’s page at the Senate’s website: Senator Kelli Stargel. Her occupation is “Investment Property Manager,” and her husband is a judge. She’s a member of the Heritage Baptist Church. Okay, back to the newspaper, which tells us:

Groups like Focus on Family, Florida Right to Life and the Florida Freedom Alliance said the measure clarifies the law, saying in one place what rights parents have and what to expect when the government interacts with their children. Opponents countered that the bill is too broad and overreaches to the point where it could pose problems for students wrestling with their sexuality or have to deal with abusive parents.

This situation is one big mess, but we’ll stay with it. The news continues:

The bill contains a legislative finding that it is a fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their child. It also establishes procedures for parents to be notified of information regarding the health and well-being of a student. And it requires school districts to develop a process for withdrawing the child from the classroom when course material is used that parents think “may be based on beliefs regarding morality, sex and religion or the belief that the materials … are harmful.”

This seems to authorize the parents to micro-manage the contents of every course, and decide which lessons their kids will skip. Let’s read on:

Stargel, in her closing statement, said all she was trying to do was clarify what rights parents have and establish procedures to safeguard what they think are in their child’s best interest. “This bill is not a huge departure from what we have in law,” she said. “It is basically compiling together (in law) for the parents to be involved with their children, that parents know they have rights, and parents have the ability to govern their children in a way they feel is best.”

Here’s one last excerpt:

A House companion is scheduled for debate in the Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

They don’t give a number for the House bill, so we can’t link to the thing, and that’s all we know so far. Oh, the Florida legislature convened on 14 January and they’re scheduled to adjourn on 13 March. There’s not much time left, but anything can happen, so stay tuned to this blog!

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19 responses to “Florida Has an ‘Opt Out’ Bill for 2020

  1. Michael Fugate

    In accordance with s. 1002.20(3)(b), the right of a parent to exempt his or her minor child from immunizations.

    No sex ed and no vaccinations – If you don’t believe in something in can’t happen, right? Kids only have sex because they learn about it in school, no?

  2. Kellie’s “keep the kids as ignorant as their parents” bill. Another threatening thing to add to Michael Fugate’s list above, the kids should skip any biology classes that cover bacteria and viruses so they don’t learn it ain’t the mean ol’ devil that’s making them sick!

  3. Glad I don’t have a business as there are fewer & fewer people smart enough to hire!

  4. “A Senate panel on Monday narrowly backed a proposal to allow parents to keep their children out of class on days when subjects they may disagree with are taught — including evolution [Are you surprised?], sex education and human influence on climate.”

    A name for that bill could be “Two Wise Monkeys Is Good Enough”: There is the monkey with the hands before the eyes (see no evil), the one with the hands in the ears (hear no evil). But, sadly, they always forgot the monkey with the hands before the mouth (so they speak evil).

    “And it requires school districts to develop a process for withdrawing the child from the classroom when course material is used that parents think “may be based on beliefs regarding morality, sex and religion or the belief that the materials … are harmful.””

    Beliefs are harmful but are guns OK for those parents? Even guns designed to kill humans are not harmful following the – harmless, for sure – magical thinking of some people.

  5. i have an interesting argument about the existence of god: say that we will see a self replicating robot ( lets say even with dna) on a far planet. do we need to conclude design or a natural process in this case? remember that according to evolution if its made from organic components and have a self replicating system we need to conclude a natural process because it has living traits. but we know that even a self replicating robot is evidence for design. therefore a penguin for instance need design too

  6. “a process for withdrawing the child from the classroom when course material is used that parents think “may be based on beliefs regarding morality, sex and religion or the belief that the materials … are harmful.”
    Question for Kelli: so atheist parents can withdraw their kids as soon as god or religion (and specifically abrahamist versions) or patriottism is mentioned? In my view many American schools abrahamist indoctrination regarding moraltiy, sex and religion is highly harmful; so are stupidites like odes to the flag and singing national anthems.
    Oh, and thanks to DesnevD I can add another talking point: talking about guns is harmful too.
    Interesting bill indeed.

  7. @G: “do we need to conclude design or a natural process in this case?”
    False dichotomy. All designs we know are the result of natural processes. Let me give you an example:


    All those table lamps were designed. That’s why the site is called misterdesign. All tools, all elements used, all procedures followed were natural.

    “therefore a penguin for instance need design too.”
    Category error resulting in a non-sequitur.
    Your argument is boring, it’s just another example of Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy, which is millennia old (TomS can tell you which Roman used it first). Worse, you are far from the first who is impressed enough by this example and its logical fallacies.
    But thanks for demonstrating the vacuity of apologetics.

  8. For PaulB: G’s uninteresting argument has one positive side. It’s a clear example of the salto mortale from our natural reality to a supernatural one a la the quote from Domela Nieuwenhuis.

  9. Would it be OK to withdraw your kids from an environment of close contact with unvaccinated kids?

  10. There seems to be no provision for the extracted student to be exempt from testing, therefore exempted Billy would be in quite a pickle on that bio exam.

    Personally, I think differential equations are the work of Satan and I would want to shield my kids from that!

  11. Wha. . . wha. . . what about “teach the controversy”?

  12. chris schilling

    Differential equations satanic! Ha! yes.

    I think kids should be shielded from junk food, too. Whenever I order from McDonald’s, they ask me “Would you like Satan with that?”

  13. @Chris S

    I always order extra crunchy Satan and Beelzebub style!

  14. On a parallel development:

    I see that recently the Welsh Education Department, which is responsible for public education in the Principality, proposed a new curriculum for “Relationships and Sexuality Education” (RSE) to be taught in all Welsh schools, including what are called “Nursery Settings”, which serve children down to the age of three. This curriculum sets out general objectives including learning about LGBTQ+ sexualities and transexuality as an ordinary part of a diverse and open society. Learning outcomes were to be set by schools along those guidelines. The previously existing right of parents to withdraw their children from RSE programs was rescinded and the RSE classes with the new curriculum would become, in effect, compulsory. (The previous right to withdraw children from class existed only for RSE. All other parts of the school curriculum, including science, were always compulsory as prescribed.)

    Apparently the new curriculum required the approval of the Welsh Regional Assembly, and this caused a process of public consultation. Expressions of interest were called for. A questionaire was sent to all persons or bodies that expressed an interest. The questions were phrased in what I can only call “departmentalese”, a jargon that seemed designed to obscure meaning as much as possible. Nevertheless, the results were clear enough.

    There were about 1800 respondents. About 65% of them, overwhelmingly parents, expressed opposition to the new curriculum content, on two discernable grounds: One, that except in rare cases of dysfunction, it was not for the State to teach moral and ethical attitudes – that was the responsibility and right of parents. Two, that the material proposed was inappropriate for the ages of the children concerned.

    Another question asked whether the right to withdraw children from the RSE program should be rescinded. 87% of respondents answered “No”, that is, they thought that the right should remain.

    I looked for other expressions of public opinion. An interest group called “Parentkind”, had 106 responses to a survey of their membership, and reported only a strong minority (35%) against rescinding the right to withdraw. “Parentkind” is a rebadging of “PTA UK”, a group that claims to be “the leading membership organisation for parent teacher associations in England and Wales”. I suspect that the responses they got were mostly from PTA branches, hence strongly influenced by the schools themselves, to which the right of withdrawal is an administrative nuisance. I think it likely that in the absence of further data, the strong majority of public and parental opinion in Wales is that the right of parents to withdraw their children from RSE classes should remain. This doesn’t appear to be the case for other parts of the school curriculum, including science.

    However, the Labour government of the Principality introduced the necessary approval unamended, and the new curriculum was adopted unchanged and made compulsory.

    Even The Guardian apparently has misgivings about this: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jan/21/sex-relationship-and-religious-education-to-be-compulsory-in-wales, quoting Welsh Humanists in opposition as well as saying that “most Christian groups” strongly opposed it, without quoting any source for that. The Guardian gave most prominence to the Terence Higgins Trust, an HIV advocacy lobby that is, not unexpectedly, strongly for compulsory RSE along its approved lines.

    Now, of course this is none of my business. I am Welsh only by ancestry, and to my shame, speak very little of the language. Still, as with other issues, I am very wary of the proposition that it is the business of government to use taxes to inculcate social attitudes, beyond very general principles like keeping the peace and respect for order and justice. To my mind, this goes well beyond that, and making the curriculum compulsory in the face of public opinion that it shouldn’t be, is only going to cause trouble. As with all contentious social policy, the law of unexpected consequences may turn up, along with its maker and master, the inimitable Murphy himself.

    That does not mean that I approve of allowing parents to remove their children from any school program they dislike. I admit to being a little vague about how far that right should extend – not very far, I think. But it should exist for some material.

  15. g:
    Very well, suppose we have a machine – a robot – capable of self-replication. If it were a machine, it would have been designed – that is, its self-replication would have been intended by its designer. That is, design is an expression of intent.

    Now, does that mean that intent must be assumed for every property? That the self-replication property of living thngs was designed? Because that’s the assumption you’re making.

    Think about it. All sorts of things have all sorts of properties. Are we to assume that all those properties were designed? Steel is hard – it’s not a natural material. It is man-made, and designed to be hard. But diamonds are harder still. Are we to assume that diamonds are designed to be hard, just because steel is designed to be hard? You might wish to think that, but it doesn’t follow. We know that a diamond’s hardness is caused by its atomic structure – its very ordered crystal lattice of four-way carbon bonds. We know that diamonds form naturally, under exactly the right conditions of materials, heat, pressure and time. Where is the designer? There is none, and none is needed.

    But if we cannot attribute the hardness of the diamond to intent – and we can’t – we can’t attribute the self-replication of living things to intent either. It doesn’t follow. There is no evidence for design in them, either. Self-replication follows from the self-replication of the DNA molecule. The existence of that molecule is like the existence of diamonds. It follows the laws of chemistry and physics. Its properties are results of those laws. There is no reason to suppose that the properties were intended. They just are.

    FrankB referred, correctly, to Paley’s False Watchmaker. Paley had the idea that if anything was very complex and could be shown to efficiently perform a specific function, that it must be the product of design, that is, intent. A watch is the product of a watchmaker. So, said Paley, living things must be designed from intent because they are very complex and perform a function – fitting an environment – very efficiently. But it doesn’t follow. Living things are complex, but they are complex and they fit environments because of a process of which Paley knew nothing – evolution through natural selection. As with the diamond, this is a natural process that exists and requires no design.

    Now you can say, if you like, that the laws that produce the properties of the diamond, or of the DNA molecule and hence of all living things, are themselves designed. All that does is to make another assumption. It won’t do.

  16. To which I add that building watches (or robots, self-replicating or not), with all its specific functions resulting from intent, still completely is a natural process, from beginning to end. Hence the argument is self-defeating when proposed to replace evolution, like creacrappers so enthusiastically try over and over again. Design of for instance watches confirms naturalism (and as TomS always adds, only makes sense on naturalism).

  17. Michael Fugate

    How can we not teach morality and ethics – the very topics we choose to cover is a moral decision.

  18. Michael Fugate

    Science communication requires well um communication

  19. As a retired jr. high (now called “Middle School”) teacher, I can say with certainty that pulling your child from school to avoid sex ed, evolution, or climate change will put a target for bullying on your kid’s back. This will cause far more harm to the child than any perceived threats from such education.

    Worse than that, the kid is going to get sex “education” from somewhere — probably from watching porn on the internet. Thinking you can “shield your child” from the “evils of education” is a fallacy.