New Restrictions For Some Florida Schools As ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law Goes Into Effect

by | Jul 1, 2022 | Politics

The highly controversial Florida education law dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” officially went into effect on Friday, July 1, even though state officials have yet to clarify exactly what conduct is banned under the new rules.The measure purportedly asserts parental rights by banning discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade classrooms. But it is written in vague terms that obscure the scope of the law. AdvertisementOrlando-area schools are apparently not taking chances. According to WFTV, a local ABC affiliate, Orange County Public Schools held a meeting between district attorneys and principals to go over the behavior that would no longer be acceptable for the youngest students. The district’s teachers’ union sounded alarm bells to the news station. Email correspondence posted to the Orange Classroom Teachers Association website discusses how K-3 teachers and school staff were advised not to wear any rainbows and to take down any photos from their desks of same-sex partners or family members. They were also encouraged not to talk about their same-sex partner to students, and not to honor the pronouns gender-nonconforming students wish to use. A district representative told WFTV that the guidance was only intended to protect the schools and staff ― including teachers’ licenses ― until the state clarified what sort of behavior is actually covered by the law. Multiple attempts to reach administrators of Orange County schools on Friday were not successful. Schools are also ensuring that their bookshelves are compliant: Palm Beach County is instructing teachers to pull LGBTQ-friendly books that might violate the state’s new law, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported earlier this year. AdvertisementOther parts of the new law are even less clear. It contains provisions apparently applying to all grade levels that require schools to notify parents of changes to students’ mental and emotional health, which could involve gender identity or sexuality.This week, Tallahassee-area schools adopted a new policy that parents will be notified when a “student who is open about their gender identity” ― presumably a reference to nonconforming students, rather than students who say they are cisgender ― is going to be using their child’s locker room or taking part on an overnight field trip.Although the guide approved by the Leon County School Board says that no student’s gender identity should be shared without their “input and permission,” some were concerned that the policy could be used to pressure students who are not prepared to discuss their identity.The Florida Department of Education has not said when it will release guidance on the law, and in one memo indicated that the department had a whole school year ― until June 2023 ― before it had to roll out new rules. Waiting that long would likely sow confusion and even more discord among students and teachers, many of whom staged walkouts to protest the law earlier this year. AdvertisementThe state Department of Education did not immediately return a request for c …

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