Florida expands so-called “don’t say gay” ban through 12th grade in public schools – Orlando Sentinel

Goff Justice announces a $20 million expansion of nursing education programs

The state Board of Education ruled on Wednesday that virtually all public school teachers in Florida are prohibited from providing instruction in classrooms about sexual orientation or gender identity.

The board voted unanimously to rule expanding the state’s controversial Parental Rights in Education Act of 2022, which has been dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics arguing that it wrongly silences all references to LGBTQ people at the school.

The newly amended rule, which was approved at a board meeting in Tallahassee, states that teachers in grades four through twelve “must not intentionally provide instruction in the classroom” about sexual orientation or gender identity unless state standards “expressly require it.” Like a health education class.

The 2022 law prohibited such education in kindergarten through third grade. Republican lawmakers this year are moving a bill that would ban subjects through the eighth grade.

Under the new law, teachers who violate the ban could face suspension or revocation of their teaching licenses.

The seven-member board — most of which are made up of Gov. Ron DeSantis appointees — also voted to remove four required subjects from state standards for high school psychology classes, saying those subjects also violated the 2022 law.

All of these criteria dealt with sexual orientation or gender identity.

One omitted criteria, for example, said, “Discuss psychological research for the examination of gender identity.” Her surrogate says, “Discuss psychological research that examines gender similarities and differences and the impact of gender discrimination,” according to two versions of the Sunshine State Standards for Social Studies, one adopted in 2021 and one adopted Wednesday.

More than 25 people spoke at the meeting, many denounced it as obnoxious and homophobic, but others praised it as an attempt to keep inappropriate topics out of classrooms.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said the rule makes it clear that teachers should focus on the state’s academic standards and not aim to harm specific students. “They will not be ostracized,” he said at the meeting.

But Diaz tweeted last month a more political explanation for the rule changes. “Students should spend their time at school learning core academic subjects, and not be fed sexist and extreme sexual ideology,” he wrote on Twitter. “In Florida, we preserve the right of children to be children.”

Critics of the law and the law say it unfairly attacks LGBT people by suggesting that they aim to sexualize children and make it difficult for teachers who want to admit LGBTQ students or those who live in families with same-sex parents.

Joe Saunders of Equality Florida, the largest LGBTQ civil rights group in the state, said the new rule “expanded the impact of this terrible law” and was “nurturing fear” among students and teachers.

Since the law was passed, Miami-Dade County School Board The Orange County School District refused to recognize October as LGBTQ History Month, required K-3 teachers to remove any rainbow-themed “Safe Space” posters in their classrooms, and districts across the state removed books from their college campuses.

Earlier this school year, the Lake County School District cited the law when it snatched up the picture book “And Tango Makes Three,” a picture book based on the true story of two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who incubate it and then feed and protect the chick when it hatches.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

[email protected]



Breaking news

as it happens

Be the first to know with email alerts about important breaking stories from the Orlando Sentinel newsroom.

[email protected]