The Florida Department of Education (DOE) approved a proposal on Wednesday to extend the state’s Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits certain lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation, to cover grades 4-12.
In March, the Florida DOE proposed a rule that would build upon the state’s Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibited instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation through the third grade and was dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, extending it through all grades. The approved rule does not need legislative approval and goes into effect in 34 days.
“For grades 4 through 12, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards … or is part of a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend,” the rule stated.
If teachers are found in violation of the rule, they could have their certification suspended or revoked. The state Legislature is also considering two bills which would expand the Parental Rights in Education law through eighth grade.
WATCH: "Queer" man at Board of Education meeting denounces proposed rule expanding restrictions on gender identity/sexual orientation teachings in grades K-12
"This is who I am, and I should never have to fear being fired for being myself. I am here, I am queer…" pic.twitter.com/Zzc1srZGGM
— Florida’s Voice (@FLVoiceNews) April 19, 2023
Following the Florida DOE’s proposal in March, the White House denounced the rule saying it hurts not just the LGBTQ community, but all students and faculty.
“It’s wrong. It’s completely, utterly wrong and we’ve been very crystal clear about that, when it comes to the Don’t Say Gay bill and other actions that this governor has taken in the state of Florida,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing. “But make no mistake, this is part of a disturbing and dangerous trend that we’re seeing across the country of legislations that are anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans and anti-the community in a way that we have not seen in some time. And it’s not just the LGBTQI+ community, we’re talking about students, we’re talking about educators, we’re talking about just individuals.”
States across the country are following Florida’s lead and seeking to implement legislation that would prohibit age-inappropriate lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom; in North Carolina, the Legislature is considering the Parents’ Bill of Rights which would bar lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from K-4 classrooms. The Iowa Legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit teachers from giving lessons “relating to gender identity” for students in kindergarten through eighth grade in public and charter school classrooms.
“We believe that the focus in education should always be teaching the basics of math, science, history, etc. in the classroom, especially when it comes to issues such as sexual orientation and gender identity,” Ryan Kennedy, a member of Florida Citizens’ Alliance, a nonprofit focused on improving K-12 education, said at the Wednesday board meeting.
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