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Sexual orientation, gender ID can be talked about in Florida classrooms under lawsuit settlement

By 37ci3 Mar11,2024

ORLANDO, Fla. – Students and teachers will be able to speak freely about sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms under an agreement reached Monday between Florida education officials and civil rights lawyers who challenged the state law, which is not part of the guidelines. which critics have dubbed “Don’t say gay.”

The settlement is clarifying what is allowed in Florida classrooms after a law was passed two years ago that banned instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in the early grades. Opponents said the law creates confusion over whether teachers can self-identify as LGBTQ or even have rainbow stickers in classrooms.

Other states Florida used the law as a template for enacting bans on classroom instruction related to gender identity or sexual orientation. Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and North Carolina are among the states with versions of the law.

Under the terms of the settlement, the Florida Board of Education will send guidance to each school district stating that Florida law does not prohibit discussion of LGBTQ people, prevent anti-bullying policies based on sexual orientation and gender identity, or disallow Gay. Plain Alliance groups. The settlement also indicates that the law is neutral, meaning that what applies to LGBTQ people also applies to heterosexual people, and that it does not apply to library books that are not used in the classroom.

“What this settlement does is restore the principal, who I hope all Americans agree that every child in this country has the right to attend a public school where they feel safe, where their dignity is respected, and where their dignity is respected. where their families and parents are welcomed” Roberta Kaplan, the chief lawyer of the plaintiffs said in an interview. “It shouldn’t be a controversial thing.”

In a statement, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office described the agreement as a “huge victory” for legal immunity.

“Today’s mutually agreed-upon settlement ensures that the law remains in place, and the case is expected to be dismissed by the Court soon,” the statement said.

Officially known as the Parents’ Rights in Education Act, the legislation is being championed by a Republican governor ahead of passage by the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature in 2022. It banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and expanded to all grades last year.

Republican lawmakers argued that parents should discuss these topics with children and that the law protects children from being taught about inappropriate material.

But opponents of the law said it created a chilling effect in classrooms. Some teachers said they were not sure if they could record or show pictures of their same-sex partners in class. In some cases, books on LGBTQ topics have been removed from classrooms and lines about sexual orientation have been removed from school musicals. In 2022, the Miami-Dade County School Board decided not to pass a resolution recognizing LGBTQ History Month, even though it had done so the year before.

The law also led to ongoing legal battles between DeSantis and Disney controlling the driving region After DeSantis took control of the government for Walt Disney World in central Florida, he described it as retaliation for the company’s opposition to the legislation. DeSantis promoted the fight against Disney during his run for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. finished earlier this year.

Civil rights advocates sued Florida education officials on behalf of teachers, students and parents, arguing the law was unconstitutional, but last year a federal judge in Tallahassee dismissed the case, saying they could not make a case. The case was appealed to the Eleventh Court of Appeals.

Kaplan said they believed the appeals court would overturn the lower court’s decision, but that continuing the lawsuit would delay any decision for several more years.

“The last thing we wanted for the kids in Florida was any more delays,” Kaplan said.

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By 37ci3

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