Florida expands ‘Don’t Say Like Me’ education ban to all grades | Education News

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Florida board passes proposal banning classroom discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation during high school.

The Florida Board of Education has agreed to ban classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, expanding the scope of a law that law critics are calling “Don’t Say Like Me” at the behest of Gov. Ron DeSantis as he prepares for the anticipated US presidential run. American.

The proposal, which passed Wednesday, will go into effect after a procedural notice period of about a month, according to a Department of Education spokesperson.

The rule change would ban lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity from grades 4 through 12, unless required by current state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take.

Florida currently prohibits such lessons from kindergarten through third grade.

The DeSantis administration floated the proposal last month as part of an aggressive conservative Republican agenda, as the governor has leaned heavily along cultural divides ahead of his looming White House bid.

DeSantis has not commented on the proposal. He previously directed questions to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., who said it was intended to clear up confusion about the current law and to promote teachers not deviating from the current curriculum.

“Our instructions should be based on the state’s academic standards,” Paul Burns, counsel for the state’s public schools division, told board members Wednesday.

The ban, which began last year with a law banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, has drawn a backlash from critics who argue it marginalizes the LGBT community and has vague terminology that leads to self-censorship from educators. Democratic President Joe Biden called her “distasteful”.

The current law is also at the root of an ongoing dispute with The Walt Disney Company, one of the largest employers and political donors in the state.

The entertainment giant opposed the law last year, and as punishment, DeSantis pushed lawmakers to give him control of an autonomous region that Disney oversees in its theme parks.

Before a group of DeSantis’ new appointees could assume control of the district, Disney’s board of directors passed restrictive charters stripping the new members of most of their powers, limiting the governor’s retaliation.

DeSantis ordered the chief inspector general to investigate the Disney board’s move and said he would take additional action against the company through legislation.