Seven months after the controversial “Parental Rights in Education Bill” was signed into law, the state school board adopted new rules on Wednesday, creating a framework for the law’s enforcement in schools across the state.
The law is also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” policy by critics as it places limits on how sexual orientation and gender identity are discussed in schools.
Its stated aim was to give parents more control over their children’s education and keep certain topics out of the classroom curriculum, particularly in kindergarten through third grade.
An update on Wednesday instructed schools across the state on how they should enforce the laws.
Some of the new rules the Board of Education addressed were:
- Notifying parents if schools allow students to use bathrooms or locker rooms that are different from their biological sex
- Giving students the opportunity to use bathrooms or locker rooms with peers exclusively of the same biological sex
- Taking disciplinary action against educators who give classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to students in Kindergarten through third grade
- No teaching students that one race or sex is inherently racist or sexist or oppressed
- Allowing parents or students who are older than 18 years old to review a student’s education records
- Requiring school personnel to get Youth Mental Health Awareness training
- Requiring elementary school library centers to give information on formats, titles and authors of reading materials
The state Board of Education meeting was held in Orlando and many people weighed in.
“This rule is ridiculous and unnecessary,” Debbie Deland, who opposes the bathroom rule, said. “I kinda feel like we’re checking genitals.”
“We are the ultimate decision maker, overseer, so parents should be fully informed on what’s happening in their child’s educational environment including where they are able to take care of personal hygienic necessities,” Liz Suits, a mother of 11 who supports the rule, said.
“All this will do is add fuel to the flames of misguided fear towards transgender kids,” Katelyn Brigette, who has a transgender daughter, said.
Those who spoke in support of the rule were largely from conservative political organizations — Moms for Liberty, County Citizens Defending Freedom and Turning Point USA – all claiming that the rules expand the rights of parents and that their children should not have to be subjected to trans students or accept their identity.
Opponents of the rule pointed out that citizens don’t have the right to take away other citizens’ rights — that’s not how liberty works.
“I want to live in a city that protects people’s rights, not a city that rejects people’s rights,” Jayjay Holmes, who opposes the rules, said.
The board also adopted a system to discipline teachers, administrators, or staff that violate any of these controversial state policies.
Back in July, a group of parents, students and activists sued four different school districts, including Duval County Public Schools in a federal lawsuit, as they challenged the constitutionality of the new law.
Other rules that were adopted by the State Board of Education Wednesday include an update to how threat assessments are reported, a requirement for youth mental health awareness training and a rule that updates how unresolved student welfare complaints are handled at charter schools.