Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Florida students and teachers can finally 'say gay' in classrooms


Students and teachers will be able to speak freely about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms, provided it’s not part of instruction, under a settlement reached between Florida education officials and civil rights attorneys who had challenged the Parental Rights in Education Act.

The settlement clarifies what is allowed in Florida classrooms following passage two years ago of the law prohibiting instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades. 

Opponents, who dubbed the law “Don't Say Gay,”said it created confusion about whether teachers could identity themselves as LGBTQ or if they even could have rainbow stickers in classrooms.

While the law remains in effect, its interpretation has been significantly altered. The law now clearly states that discussions related to sexual orientation and gender identity are permissible in educational settings. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the Florida Board of Education will send instructions to every school district saying the Florida law doesn't prohibit discussing LGBTQ people, nor prevent anti-bullying rules on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or disallow Gay-Straight Alliance groups. 

The settlement also spells out that the law is neutral, meaning what applies to LGBTQ people also applies to heterosexual people, and that it doesn't apply to library books not being used for instruction in the classroom.

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