A ban on class lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation could extend through 12th grade
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to extend a ban on classroom discussions surrounding gender identity and sexual orientation through the 12th grade. A proposed rule coming before the Florida Board of Education next month is an expansion of the so called “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed last year by lawmakers and it goes further than what Republicans are currently considering.
Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said the proposed rule is aimed at providing greater clarity for teachers.
“This rule basically says that we’re sticking to the standards and when you’re talking about K-12 instruction all the way through 12th grade, these standards don’t incorporate gender ideology or any of these theories in math, social studies, reading or anything else," Diaz said.
Diaz spoke following a rally with DeSantis in Orange Park Thursday. Right now, state law prohibits lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity through 3rd grade and a bill moving through the legislature extends that ban through 8th grade. Rep. Adam Anderson (R-Tarpon Springs) is helping to usher that bill through the process. He said deciding what defines discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation puts schools in a difficult spot.
“I think if we asked 12 different people in this room that exact same question, we’d probably get 12 different answers and that’s a question that our principals and our teaches are getting every day," Anderson said. "And that’s specifically why we are excluding classroom discussion on those so we can get our teachers back to the core subjects like reading, science math and history.”
Advocates for the LGBTQ community are pushing back. Brandon Wolf is the press secretary of Equality Florida. He said the expansion of the ban is one more step in a wider strategy the GOP controlled legislature is pushing forward this year.
“Republican leaders have filed over 20 anti-LGBTQ bills to foment the manufactured hysteria that DeSantis can monetize and weaponize in service to his career ambitions," Wolf said.
The proposed rule, which goes beyond the bill under consideration, doesn’t need legislative approval. It’s scheduled for a vote before the state board of education next month.