Florida officials voted yesterday to ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in all grades, further expanding the state’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which prevented those lessons from being taught to students in the third grade or younger.
The new rule change was crafted to ensure teachers stick to state standards, according to education officials.
“The curriculum and the standards taught in an academic classroom have nothing to do with the school’s compassion and being able to provide services to individual students,” Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said, per Politico. “They’re not being shunned, none of this is being addressed here.”
Diaz added, “We shouldn’t be asking our teachers to be teaching mental health or providing that. They should be more of a conduit to pass that on.”
Under the new rule, instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for K-12 education is only allowed as required by state standards, or if they are required as part of a reproductive health class, which parents are able to opt their children out of.
“It is wrong for a teacher to tell a student that they may have been born in the wrong body or that their gender is a choice,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during prepared remarks in Charleston, South Carolina, yesterday morning.
Florida’s Department of Education spokesman Alex Lanfranconi told the Washington Examiner that the rule change “reaffirms Florida’s commitment to uphold parental rights and keep indoctrination out of our schools.”
Lanfranconi continued, saying, “Educators in Florida are expected to teach to the state academic standards. The topics of gender identity and sexual orientation have no place in the classroom, unless required by law.”
Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, slammed the change by Florida officials as “hateful,” saying it is rolling back the rights of millions of Floridians.
“Let’s put it plainly: this is part of the Governor’s assault on freedom. Free states do not ban books. Free states do not censor entire communities out of the classroom. Free states do not wage war on LGBTQ+ people to score cheap political points for a man desperate to be President,” Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Political Director, said in a statement. “This policy will escalate the government censorship that is sweeping our state, exacerbate our educator exodus, drive hardworking families from Florida, and further stigmatize and isolate a population of young people who need our support now more than ever. Shame on the DeSantis Administration for putting a target on the backs of LGBTQ+ Floridians.”