News (USA)

Florida schools roll back LGBTQ+ policies to comply with Don’t Say Gay law

An empty classroom
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On Wednesday, Florida’s State Board of Education got an update on progress among school district’s flagged for noncompliance with the state’s Don’t Say Gay law.

Ten county school districts were put on notice last month that some of their policies and procedures “may not comport with Florida law” and were directed to bring their districts into compliance.

The board learned several districts among the ten pulled LGBTQ+ support guides, two passed new regulations banning trans kids from using the restrooms and locker rooms of their gender, and one threw out half of its equity statement addressing racism.

With those rollbacks, board members — all appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — were satisfied.

“Ultimately we found that these districts are in compliance with the law,” said board chair Tom Grady.

The Parental Rights in Education Act, passed in March, went into effect in September. The law prohibits instruction and discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and restricts those discussions in higher grades.

It’s had a chilling effect on LGBTQ+ teachers, students, and speech of all kinds.

The school districts flagged for non-compliance were Alachua, Broward, Brevard, Duval, Hillsborough, Indian River, Leon, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, plus the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.

In the hearing, Grady warned superintendents they could still be subject to lawsuits by parents as they instituted changes. Broward County reported it would take until March 31, 2023 to roll back policies to bring the district into compliance.

“I think it’s clear to me that not only Broward, but other districts have a pretty significant incentive to move as quickly as possible, certainly prior to March 31, in order to revise those procedures to avoid that type of a challenge,” Grady said.

Chairman Grady also took the opportunity at Wednesday’s meeting to congratulate the DeSantis-appointed board for an award by the right-leaning Center for Education Reform, which endorsed and lobbied for the Don’t Say Gay legislation at the center of their agenda.

“I think this is a good time to just very quickly note, Florida has ranked Number 1 in the nation for parents’ involvement in education,” Grady said, “and that’s really what this item is about.”

Last week, the author of the Don’t Say Gay law, Republican state Rep. Joseph Harding, was indicted on charges of wire fraud, money laundering, and making false statements, and resigned his seat in the Florida legislature.

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