An expansion of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill has been approved by the state’s Board of Education.
The move will ban classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis introduced the original ‘Parental Rights in Education Act’ last year.
The Republican, expected to run for US President in 2024, then proposed an expansion last month.
The first version of the bill banned classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. The escalation will also impact grades four to 12.
Florida’s Board of Education approved the expansion yesterday (19 April, 2023).
On the same day, the Florida House of Representatives also passed bills restricting gender-transition treatments and keeping children out of drag shows, reports AP.
The outlet cites an education department spokesperson as saying the proposal will take effect after a procedural notice period of about a month.
The new rules state that teachers “shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction to students in prekindergarten through grade 3 on sexual orientation or gender identity” and that they “shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction to students in grades 4 through 12 on sexual orientation or gender identity unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards as adopted in Rule 6A-1.09401, F.A.C., 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.”
Teachers who violate the rules face suspension or losing their teaching licences.
“It’s completely, utterly wrong” – White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Responding to news last month of the proposal for the expansion, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing: “It’s completely, utterly wrong.”
Jean-Pierre, who is a lesbian, continued: “Make no mistake. This is part of a disturbing and dangerous trend we’re seeing across the country. Of legislation that [is] anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans, in a way we have not seen in some time.
“We’re talking about students, we’re talking about educators, we’re talking about individuals. [The White House] will continue to fight for the dignity of Americans.”
‘Don’t Say Gay’ is one of a raft of state-level anti-LGBTQ bills introduced across America. A ban on drag performances in public spaces was recently signed into law in Tennessee. Elsewhere, a new law in Texas prevents trans pupils from playing in school sports teams matching their gender identity.
The American Civil Liberties Union has furthermore tracked 467 anti-LGBTQ bills currently active in the US.