Earlier this year, the Florida legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis passed a bill that they called the Parental Right in Education law, but it is widely known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law. It forbids any recognition of gender identity in grades K-3, as well as careful scrutiny of any such instruction in higher grades to be sure that it is “age appropriate” (i.e., in the eye of the beholder). Gov. DeSantis boasted on election night that Florida is where “woke goes to die.” As you will read in the article below, the governor’s general counsel defined “woke” as the “belief there are systemic injustices in America society and the need to address them.”
Surely, doesn’t everyone agree that there are no “systemic injustices in American society,” and never was such a time or thing ever ever. Since they don’t exist, the reasoning goes, there is no need to address them. The state of Florida believes that it must be illegal to teach about any systemic injustices that exist now or might have existed in the past. This law is a denial of academic freedom, plain and simple.
It is a kind of poetic justice that the sponsor of this law–Rep. Joe Harding– was indicted for wire fraud and money laundering—for claiming $150,000 in COVID recovery funds from the Small Business Administration for two businesses he owned that had no employees and no revenues. He has resigned his seat in the legislature. Karma.
The Miami Herald reported:
Florida’s State Board of Education will meet next week to scrutinize whether 10 school districts — including Miami-Dade, Broward and Hillsborough counties — are carrying out the state’s parental rights law, which have become a political lightning rod in local school board meeting and national politics in recent years.
The Florida Department of Education put the districts on notice last month when it sent superintendents letters detailing the policies and procedures that each of their districts “may not comport with Florida law.”
The law, titled Parental Rights in Education, but which critics have dubbed “don’t say gay,” prohibits classroom instruction and discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K through 3 — and in older grades if they are not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
Many of the policies the state has flagged offer protections to LGBTQ students who confide personal information to school employee by requiring their consent to divulge aspect of their sexual orientation and gender identity to guardians and parents.
In letters sent Nov. 18, Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva flagged a range of policies and procedures at the 10 school districts and requested a status update on those policies by Friday.
In addition to Miami-Dade, Broward and Hillsborough, letters were also sent to Alachua, Brevard, Duval, Indian River, Leon, Palm Beach and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.
The State Board of Education will meet on Wednesday.
Some of the policies that were flagged by the state include “best practices” policies for school personnel to not disclose the sexual orientation or gender identity of students without their input or permission; policies that say all students should be referred to by the gender pronouns and name that is consistent with their gender identity, and rules that allow students to access locker rooms and restroom that are consistent with their gender identity.
The state has also raised questions about a “racial equity policy” at the Indian River County School District. The district’s policy says it is mean to confront “the institutional racism that results in predictably lower academic achievements for students of color than for their white peers.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis has targeted such policies as he declares Florida to be the state where “woke goes to die.” During a federal court trial last week, DeSantis’ general counsel Ryan Newman, said the term “woke” refers to the “belief there are systemic injustices in America society and the need to address them.”
In Miami-Dade, the state has zeroed in on policies that aim to support transgender and “gender expansive students” in sports, locker rooms, and manners that pertain to which pronouns students want to use and what private information they want to disclose. In Broward County, policies that aim to create a “safe space for LGBTQ+ students” have come under the microscope.
The state wants to hear the status of five policies, including one that says “it is never appropriate to divulge the sexual orientation of a student to a parent without the student’s consent.” And in Hillsborough County, the state is asking the district to provide an update on two policies: a “racial equity” policy that aim to increase academic achievement for “ALL students,” and LGBTQ policies that deal with “coming out and confidentiality.”