The Florida Board of Education on Wednesday approved a policy that bans the teaching of topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in all classrooms, expanding a law critics call “Don’t Say a Gay” (“Don’t Say a Word Gay”) at the request of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who Preparing to enter the race for the presidency of the United States.
The proposal will go into effect after a notice period of about a month, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Education.
Thus, the new policy will also prohibit lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from Grade 4 (Primary) to Grade 12 (equivalent to the first year of CEGEP), unless they are required by current state standards or are part of reproductive health education, which students can opt out of.
Florida currently prohibits this type of classroom from kindergarten through third grade.
The DeSantis administration introduced the proposal last month as part of its conservative agenda, as the governor leaned heavily on cultural divides ahead of his imminent bid for the White House.
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Ron DeSantis did not comment on the upcoming changes. He previously directed his questions to Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., who said the proposal aims to clear confusion about the existing law and promote non-distraction from existing curricula.
“Our education should be based on the state’s academic standards,” Paul Burns, counsel for the state’s Department of Public Schools, told board members Wednesday.
The ban, which began last year with a law banning classes on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through ninth grade, has drawn strong reactions from opponents. They believe that it marginalizes LGBTQ+ and that its vague terminology leads to self-censorship by teachers.
Democratic President Joe Biden called her “hateful”.
The current law has also raised a dispute with Disney, one of the largest employers and political donors in the state.
The entertainment giant opposed the law last year. As punishment, DeSantis pushed lawmakers to give him control of an independent region that Disney oversees in its theme parks.
Before a series of new Mr. DeSantis-appointed members can take control of the district, Disney’s board of directors passes restrictive charters stripping the new members of most of their powers, blunting the governor’s retaliation.
Mr. DeSantis asked the chief inspector general to investigate the Disney board’s decision and promised further retaliation against the company through legislation.
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