Top Republican lawmakers in Kansas are focusing on helping conservative parents pull their kids out of public schools for what is being taught about gender and sexuality rather than pursuing a version of what critics call Florida law.» Don’t say gay.»

A proposal to allow parents to use state tax dollars to pay for private or home schooling would be available online Tuesday, the day after a committee on K-12 spending introduced the measure in the House.

The introduction comes as funding and lesson plans for public schools have become hot topics for conservative politicians across the country. Lawmakers in Iowa passed a similar law last week and at least a dozen states they are considering similar legislation.

Channeling public funds to private schools is not a new idea, but it gained traction in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in part because of parental concerns about masks and vaccinations. The issue has also been fueled by opposition to how some schools teach lessons on topics like gender, sexuality and race.

Critics of the bills say they divert much-needed money from public schools.

As the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature opened its annual session earlier this month, Republican leaders planned to tackle what Senate President Ty Masterson called “the sexualized awakening agenda” in the way public schools discuss sexuality and gender identity.

Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, said he wanted to seek a measure detailing what schools could teach or discuss on those topics by grade level, much like Florida law enacted last year.

But last week, when asked about such a measure, Masterson seemed to change direction: «We’re talking about school choice.» He told The Associated Press on Monday: «Probably the only way to ultimately handle it, right?, is to have options for parents.»

The bill on the House floor is the brainchild of the chair of the K-12 spending committee, state Rep. Kristey Williams, another Wichita-area Republican. She said that she expects to have hearings next week.

His bill would allow parents to request the creation of a state-sponsored education savings account for each of their children, with the state reserving the current amount of its basic aid per student for public schools. That’s $5,103 for the 2023-24 school year, an amount that would increase as the state increases its aid. Parents would receive 95% and the state would use the remainder to cover administrative costs.

Kansas already provides income tax credits for donations to funds that provide scholarships for at-risk students to attend private schools, a program Republican lawmakers want to expand. But in the US, conservative lawmakers argue that tax dollars should be tied to students, not «systems.»

Williams also called her plan «the perfect answer» for parents frustrated with what public schools teach about gender, sexuality or the influence of racism on American history. Currently, she said, parents can’t change schools unless they can afford the extra costs.

“But with choice, it gives freedom to choose the best and most appropriate education, the best and most appropriate type of environment,” he said.

Public education groups and Democratic lawmakers argue that such proposals will take money from the state’s K-12 schools in favor of private and home schools. They reject Masterson’s characterization of public schools as «factories for a radical social agenda» and argue that conservative Republicans are trying to dismantle public education.

State Rep. Jarrod Ousley, a Kansas City-area Democrat whose wife is a member of a local school board, said public schools help build communities.

“That is the fabric of our nation,” Ousley said.

Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is strongly opposed a plan like the one presented in the Chamber. His big education initiative is steadily increasing 61% over five years in spending on public K-12 programs for students with special needs.

Republicans hold legislative majorities that would allow them to override a Kelly veto, though Republican leaders have found it difficult to keep Republicans united on education issues.

Meanwhile, advocates for private and home schooling argue that parents want more options because they haven’t been happy with remote schooling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fallon Love, a Wichita resident who manages restaurant finances in several states, enrolled her 7-year-old son as a sophomore at Urban Preparatory Academy, run by the nondenominational Christian Faith Center in Wichita.

Love said she likes the «intimate» learning environment at the academy and feels her son is learning positive character traits while getting opportunities like a trip last week to the Statehouse for a school choice rally.

“There are many parents who are not lucky enough to be able to decide where their children go,” he said after that rally. «Everyone should have the right to decide where they want their child to go to receive the best education.»

Wade Moore, one of the church’s bishops, told the crowd at the rally that a school choice law like Iowa’s allows parents to avoid «crazy stuff» in public schools. After the rally, he said he was referring to both violence, such as fighting, and issues like which bathrooms and locker rooms transgender students can use.

“A lot of these things are being forced on children, on families,” he said after the rally.