- A rule change to a Florida law bans education on sexual orientation and gender identity from being taught to students through 12th grade.
- The Florida Board of Education passed the law at Governor Ron DeSantis’ request.
- The expanded law, expected to go into effect next month, could escalate tensions between DeSantis and his critics, including Disney.
A rule change to a Florida Department of Education law will ban education on sexual orientation and gender identity from being taught to students through 12th grade.
The Florida Board of Education approved the expanded law Wednesday at DeSantis’ request. The former Parental Rights in Education law passed in 2022 bans lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade. The newly expanded law will now prohibit classroom education on the topics through 12th grade, which includes 18-year-old students.
The development is bound to fuel already tense relations between Governor Ron DeSantis and his critics, including Disney, which refer to the controversial Parental Rights in Education law as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The law is the latest in a slew of conservative-driven policies backed by DeSantis—who is widely anticipated to announce a bid for president—which includes removing books from schools that aren’t on an approved reading list until they are reviewed by an employee with a media specialist certificate. The policy bans books with explicit content, such as pornographic material, from schools.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the law will take effect once a procedural notice period ends in a month.
Newsweek reached out to Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz for comment by email.
Equality Florida, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group that recently announced a travel advisory for the state because of recent laws that make it “hostile” for LGBTQ+ individuals, called the law a “despicable escalation” of DeSantis’ “assault on freedom”.
“Free states do not ban books. Free states do not censor entire communities out of the classroom. Free states do not refuse to recognize the historical contributions of LGBTQ people because of who they are and who they love. Free states do not wage war on people to score cheap political points for a man desperate to be President,” a spokesperson for the organization told Newsweek in a statement.
“This policy, rubber-stamped by the State Board of Education, will escalate the government censorship that is sweeping our state, exacerbate our educator exodus, drive more hardworking families from Florida, and further stigmatize and isolate a population of young people who need our support now more than ever.
“Just one year under Don’t Say LGBTQ has plunged our education system into right wing chaos,” the spokesperson added. “Now, the Board of Education has forced us deeper into that chaos. Shame on the DeSantis Administration for putting a target on the backs of LGBTQ Floridians.”