Anthony Izaguirre and Adriana Gomez Licon: ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law confuses some Florida schools
Two AP reporters look at how Florida’s repressive law is affecting the new school year.
Some Florida schools have moved library books and debated changing textbooks in response to a law critics call “Don’t Say Gay” — and some teachers have worried that family pictures on their desks could get them in trouble.
As students return from summer break, educators are cautiously adjusting and waiting to see how the new law governing lessons on gender and sexual orientation will be interpreted and enforced.
The new law, championed by Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, bans lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade as well as material that is not deemed age-appropriate. Most educators do not expect a major change in lesson plans — one of the key reasons critics cited in saying the law was unnecessary was that teachers do not cover such subjects in early grades anyway.
But some worry it sets a tone that will leave LGBTQ teachers and kids feeling ostracized.
“The messaging of this law is horrible. It’s toxic, it’s discriminatory,” said Gretchen Robinson, a lesbian high school teacher in Orange County. “It targets, very obviously, LGBTQ students, it ‘others’ them, and that is not OK.”
Workshops about the law that her school district’s legal team held over the summer caused confusion. Some staff said they were told teachers in kindergarten through third grade could not display pride flags or photos of their same-sex spouses. The district later said the law only applied to classroom instruction and that the photos were allowed. It apologized for offering bad guidance with a hypothetical discussion.
Opponents say the law would stifle classroom discussion, arguing that it doesn’t clarify what could be deemed inappropriate. It also establishes an enforcement mechanism that invites parents to file lawsuits against districts, potentially heightening tensions between conservatives and school officials.