An openly gay kindergarten teacher appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday to complain about not being able to talk to his students about his boyfriend under the newly signed Parental Rights in Education legislation in Florida.
The legislation, signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday, states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
Parents will be able to sue districts over violations.
The teacher, Cory Bernaert, said that he wants to be able to talk to his young students about his love life.
“You know, it’s two-fold, it really hits hard in my heart professionally and personally. Professionally it truly makes me feel like I am not trusted as a professional. I know my kindergarten standards through and through and nowhere in our curriculum does it have anything about teaching sexual orientation or sexual identity,” Bernaert said.
“So for them to say that that’s happening that, you know, it is kind of crazy, but we should be able to have discussions and that’s what we’re encouraged to do in kindergarten. Personally, because my kids do have questions, they want to know who my partner is and pictures outside the classroom and I should be able to speak to them.”
“Do you worry you can’t talk about your own personal home life? I know my child has two teachers, one of which has a daughter at home and is single. The other is married and has four children. I know everything about their lives because my kid tells me,” the MSNBC host asked.
The bill does not forbid teachers from saying “gay,” despite the media incorrectly branding it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“Absolutely, you are 100% correct,” Bernaert agreed. “That’s what we do as educators, we build relationships with our kids. In order to build relationships, you talk about your home life, what you do on the weekends that’s building community. It scares me that I am not going to be able to have these conversations with my children because they’re going to ask about what I did on the weekend, I don’t want to have to hide that my partner and I went paddleboarding this weekend. They will ask ‘what does partner mean?’ Can I tell them what it means?”
Bernaert said that he will continue to speak to his students about his love life.
HB 1557 will go into effect in July.