Florida passed recently a law to curb the teaching of gender identity and sexuality to children under age 5.
Florida’s new law restricting the teaching of sexuality and gender ideology to public school students in grades kindergarten through three has taken effect as of Friday.
The Parental Rights in Education Act – dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law by its detractors – prohibits instructing children on sexual orientation and gender issues in ways that are not “Age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate.” The bill’s text describes it as an effort to “Ensure that parents have the right to decide how their child is raised and controlled.”
This controversial law allows parents to sue schools districts that they feel have broken the guidelines. It also requires parental consent before the school can administer health services to those students.
It also prohibits schools from adopting policies that would prevent parents from learning of “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being” – a requirement that has been interpreted as requiring teachers to ‘out’ their LGBT students to their parents.
The bill was signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in March. Parental concern over schools’ interference in children’s sexual development has reached a fever pitch in the last few years, with many parents upset over what they view as explicit sexual education curricula targeting young kids and extracurricular activities like ‘drag queen story hours’ seen as promoting LGBT lifestyles to children too young to understand them.
While the move has been praised by conservative groups and parents’ rights organizations, the American Federation of Teachers has accused the governor of participating in a “Smear campaign” against its members, arguing political campaigns like the movement to ban gender ideology and critical race theory from schools are “To create distrust” between parents and teachers.
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President Joe Biden also denounced the bill on Friday, declaring that “legislators shouldn’t be in the business of censoring educators,” and vowing that his administration would do “Students are protected by every means possible.”
Also taking effect on July 1 was the Individual Freedom Act, which places limits on how teachers can address the concepts of ‘systemic racism’ and ‘white supremacism’ in the classroom.