Recent developments in Florida regarding classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity have been an issue of importance. The Florida Board of Education has voted to expand restrictions on classroom instruction in these areas, following the Parental Rights in Education law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis in March 2022.
The new amendment prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for students and states, “This amendment prohibits classroom instruction to students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 3 on sexual orientation or 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 amendment.
Critics of the restrictions argue that everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity and that these rules would make it impossible to teach much of anything related to these topics. Laura McGinnis, of the LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG, previously told ABC News that “it looks like this rule would make it impossible to do much instruction at all.”
On the other hand, supporters of the rules argue that there is no reason for instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to be part of K-12 public education. A spokesperson for Governor DeSantis, who has backed restrictions on education about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation, stated that “there is no need to discuss these issues in schools. Full stop.”
During the Wednesday hearing, the public debated the bill before the board. Critics argued that the bill will censor speech and stop people from talking about their identities due to its vague descriptions of “instruction” and “gender identity and sexual orientation.”