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Expanded ‘Don’t Say Gay’ classroom restrictions explored in Florida

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(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — A proposed Florida Board of Education rule could expand restrictions on classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity.


“For grades 4 through 12, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards … 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,” according to the proposed rule.

This rule would build up on the Parental Rights in Education law Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March 2022. The law bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. It states that any instruction on those topics cannot occur “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” according to the legislation.

The law was dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics, who said it aimed to shun LGBTQ identities from classroom content and discussion.

This rule, voted on by the seven-member board, coincides with other legislation being considered in the state legislature. HB 1223 would ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in pre-kindergarten through grade 8, and would not require any employee or student to refer to a another person using their “preferred personal title or pronouns” if it does not correspond to that person’s sex. The proposed legislation would also make it a statewide public school policy that “it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”

A hearing on the proposed board policy will be held on April 19 at the Florida State Capitol Complex.

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