Florida Board of Education expands restrictions on sex education education

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TALHASY, FL (WFLA) — Florida education officials voted on Wednesday to ban any classroom teaching related to gender identity and sexual orientation in all of the state’s public schools.

The modified rule extends from the current pre-kindergarten to the curriculum restrictions for third grade through high school, with a few exceptions. “We’re making it clear what our standards actually say.” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said.

The rule states, “No classroom instruction may be intentionally given to students in grades 4-12 about sexual orientation or gender identity unless such instruction is expressly required by state academic standards as approved by Rule 6A-1.09401, FAC, or part of Reproductive health course or health lesson for which the student’s parent has the option for his/her student not to attend.

Dozens took to public comment Wednesday to either oppose or support the new rule.

Things aren’t clear enough, John Harris Mawer of Equality Florida says, “We’re concerned that the new rule that extends even further up to 12th grade compounds the vagueness we’ve already seen in the rules and will make it much more difficult for teachers to figure out.” How to comply in good faith and it will make it difficult for teachers to know how to comply in good faith.”

A similar rule is making its way through the legislature in bills, HP 1069 And SB 1320. Both would expand parental rights in the education bill passed in 2022, which bans teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Everyone has the right to the upbringing, emotional well-being, and age-appropriate content to which their children are exposed.” said Jessica Graham, Moms for Liberty Hillsborough County. “I don’t believe in good, law-abiding teachers that this is going to be a problem for them in the first place. I think it will basically organize something that makes sense.”

If a teacher violates the new rule, they could face suspension or revocation of their teaching license. Schools will have at least 30 days to prepare for the changes before they take effect.