Education officials in Florida voted on Wednesday to expand a law signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis that forbade such lessons for younger students and was derided by opponents as the “Don’t Say G*y” bill by outlawing classroom instruction on gender identity and s*xual orientation in all public school grades.
The new regulation is a component of a larger rightward movement on cultural matters that DeSantis, who is widely anticipated to run for president in 2024, has championed.
The board, whose members are nominated by the governor, unanimously agreed to forbid education on gender identity or s*xual orientation in grades four through twelve, with the exception of situations in which it is mandated by state standards or is a component of a health course from which parents can choose to exempt their children.
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DeSantis signed legislation last year that prohibited kindergarten through third grade teachers from teaching about gender identity and s*xual orientation. He did this because he believed that parents, not teachers, should decide whether to talk to their children about these topics.
The measure, according to critics, including Democratic President Joe Biden, would marginalize LGBTQ youth, who are already at risk. DeSantis and the Walt Disney Co. are engaged in a continuing legal dispute as a result of the entertainment giant’s vocal opposition to the measure.
During nearly an hour of public discussion prior to Wednesday’s vote, dozens of speakers made passionate arguments, the majority against the proposal.
Here is a tweet related to this topic:
Florida expands its #DontSayGay law banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity to grades 4-12.
“This is part of the governor’s assault on freedom,” said Joe Saunders of @equalityfl.
President Biden has called the law “hateful.” https://t.co/9MxBNP3J5B
— PEN America (@PENamerica) April 19, 2023
Many critics claimed that the rule’s wording was so ambiguous that educators would probably steer clear of the subjects altogether rather than jeopardize their careers.
Others questioned whether LGBTQ students or students with LGBTQ families would feel hesitant to share their personal lives in class. Some speakers questioned whether teachers might skip books with g*y protagonists.
“This rule is by design a tool for curating fear, anxiety, and the erasure of our LGBTQ community,” said Joe Saunders, senior political director of the LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Florida.
Manny Diaz, the state’s commissioner of education, defended the idea, saying it merely made clear that teachers must follow state-approved courses. He recommended that teachers refer students who require counseling, especially for mental health, to licensed school counselors.
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We’re not taking anything away from here, he declared. All we are doing is establishing the standards so that our teachers know exactly how to teach to them. A teacher’s teaching license could be suspended or revoked for breaking the rule.
Moms for Liberty and Florida Citizens Alliance, two conservative organizations that concentrate on education, applauded the law for defending parental rights, while other supporters claimed it would stop the “indoctrination” of children.
According to Ryan Kennedy of the Florida Citizens Alliance, parents should make these choices about when to expose their children to this content at home.
Legislative authorization is not required for the regulation. The legislature, which is dominated by Republicans, is also debating a measure that would extend the 2022 law to the eighth grade.
On this subject, Americans are polarized along partisan lines. In a March Reuters/Ipsos survey, 72% of Democrats said they would be more likely to support a presidential candidate who was in favor of allowing teachers to talk about students’ s*xual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.
However, 76% of Republicans stated they would be less likely to back such a candidate.