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Florida's new 'don't say gay' laws: what they mean for kids

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FLorida’s Board of Education approved an extension of the state’s so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, which would bar teachers from talking about sexual orientation and gender to all public school students. The decision came at the request of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis filed an administrative motion for the changes last month.

The new rule adds to an existing parental rights to education law enacted in March 2022, which bans public schools from teaching about gender or sexual orientation from kindergarten through third grade. The law prohibits discussing these topics in a way that is not “age” or “developmentally” appropriate. The new rule expands the law’s provision for students through 12th grade.

Advocates have said that such measures ensure that parents have control over what their students learn in school. “There is no doubt that one family is completely different from another family,” Christian Ziegler, chairman of the Florida GOP, previously told TIME. “But the most appropriate way to handle this is to allow parents and families to introduce these concepts and have these discussions with their families when they see fit.”

Critics say the law erases LGBTQ+ discussions and censors Floridians. They are also concerned that the law will harm an estimated 114,000 gay youths in the state, according to a 2020 administered count. by Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law,

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, executive director of Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education, wrote, “The decision by the Florida Board of Education to extend the curriculum ban through twelfth grade is outrageous — and will result in devastating consequences for Florida students and adjunct teachers.” ” Network, a nonprofit founded by educators to create positive spaces for queer youth, in an emailed statement. “The curriculum deprives LGBTQ+ youth of the opportunity to reflect on themselves in the classroom and observe their non-LGBTQ+ peers while learning about LGBTQ+ communities.”

the law will officially take effect after notice period About a month old.

Expansion of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Laws

Florida legislators are also considering several bills containing similar provisions in the parental rights to education law that seek to restrict instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity until eighth grade.

A set of three bills being considered—House Bill 1223, 1069 and Senate Bill 1320—would expand the Don’t-Gay laws. The proposed bills include provisions that would require Florida teachers to teach that sex is assigned at birth based on sex organs, among other measures. The bill would make school districts legally responsible for enforcing the mandates.

The proposed legislation is separate from the Board of Education vote—which was passed unanimously by members appointed by the governor—and does not require legislative approval. Florida legislation gives Empowers state boards of education to enact regulations and “pursue broad educational objectives for public instruction”.

newly passed rule impresses teachers,Unlike the law, which targets school boards—prohibits them from providing classroom instruction on sexual orientation or identity through twelfth grade “unless such instruction is expressly required by either state educational standards”. or part of a curriculum that parents can exempt their child from attending. Teachers who are found violating the new rules could lose their teaching licenses.

Brandon Wolf, press secretary for the LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida, explains what the proposed bills could mean with an example: “[If a teacher] English class mentions that a household can have two mothers Under a proposed expansion in the legislature, a student’s parent could sue the school district and the school district would be liable for the fact that a teacher admitted that LGBTQ people exist,” Wolf tells Time.

The decision to pass this rule comes amid a torrent of other restrictions in the state that limit its what kind of books can children read, higher education instruction on race and much more. It also comes at a tension point between Disney, which Don’t Say Gay Condemned in Publicand the governor.

“This policy, rubber-stamped by the State Board of Education, will increase the government censorship that is widespread in our state, drive the exodus of our teachers, drive more hard-working families out of Florida, and put those young people at risk stigmatize and alienate the populations of those who need us the most.” Support is greater now than ever,” Wolf says. “Just one year under Don’t Say LGBTQ has plunged our education system into right-wing chaos. Now, the Board of Education has plunged us deeper into that chaos. LGBTQ Shame on the DeSantis administration for targeting Floridians in the back.

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