According to the Washington Post, the Florida Department of Education is set to begin suspending or revoking licenses for teachers of K-3 students if they discuss or teach gender identity or sexuality in their classrooms. The change comes as a new rule that was proposed in September takes effect.
The rule, which was proposed by Education Commissioner, Manny Diaz Jr., enforces the Parental Rights in Education Act, which was a law passed in 2021 that prohibits teaching gneder identity or sexuality to children from kindergarten through third grade. The law is commonly known by critics as the "don't say gay" law.
The law states that any teacher who "intentionally provide[s] classroom instruction" to K-3 children on gender or sexuality will have their teaching certificates either revoked or suspended.
The controversial law requires schools to have a system through which parents can report teachers who violate the law. The 2021 act also makes it easy for parents to sue the scool district for non-compliance if the school does not address the parent's concerns when they are brought forth. The Parental Rights in Education Act also allows the Florida Departmnet of Education to launch investigatons in a district where a complaint is made.
The rule, which was released as Hurricane Ian made landfall drew controversy from several LGBTQ advocates and teacher organizations. Executive director of LGBTQ rights group GLSEN, Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, released a statement Thursday stating that the new rule, "will harm LGBTQ+ students, who we know benefit by having supportive teachers and inclusive curriculum in the classroom."
A spokesman for the Department of Education made it clear Thursday that teachers who abide by the law won't have any trouble and said, "The proposed amendment will change nothing for teachers who follow the law and are focused on providing high-quality calssroom instruction aligned to state academic standards."