The wording of the parental rights law will be clarified


That’s the message plaintiffs are taking away from a settlement announced Monday in their 2-year-old lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law.
They have contended that the measure, which they derisively labeled Don’t Say Gay, aimed to erase conversation about the LGBTQ+ community from schools.
DeSantis and others who backed the legislation insisted repeatedly that they had no intention of stopping discussions about LGBTQ+ issues in schools.
As part of their defense, lawyers for the state pushed back against the allegations that the law lacked clarity.
Among the clarifications, it will note:The law does not prohibit classroom references to LGBTQ+ people, families or issues, including in literature, discussions with students and academic work such as student essays.
The law requires neutrality and bars classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity of all types, whether heterosexuality, homosexuality or others.
Because it refers to instruction, the law does not apply to library books that are not being used in class lessons.
“It’s going to make a huge difference because the law was so vague that people stayed away from everything,” Houry said.
She acknowledged that some people might not change their behaviors as a result of the words on paper.
“There are going to be remnants where it doesn’t matter what the law says or what the settlement says,” Morrison said.

Feel free to identify as gay.

Plaintiffs in a two-year-old lawsuit contesting the validity of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law are taking away that lesson from a settlement that was revealed on Monday.

They have argued that the goal of the law, which they mockingly dubbed “Don’t Say Gay,” was to ban discussion of the LGBTQ+ community in schools. signed by the governor. Ron DeSantis in March 2022, it restricted such lessons for older grades and outlawed classroom instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade, where it was not covered in the curriculum.

After a year, the state extended the ban to include high schools.

It was repeatedly stated by DeSantis and other supporters of the legislation that they had no intention of putting an end to conversations about LGBTQ+ issues in schools. They declared that eliminating what they referred to as gender ideology was their aim.

However, they did not give precise definitions or comprehensive instructions outlining what is and is not permitted in classrooms. According to the critics, this had a chilling effect on teachers, who then stopped discussing children’s families, took books with LGBTQ+ themes and characters off their shelves, and stopped offering support to LGBTQ+ students.

Defending their position, state attorneys refuted the claims that the law was unclear. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs announced a settlement that legitimized their arguments.

Roberta Kaplan, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, which included various individuals and the advocacy organizations Equality Florida and Family Equality, stated that “it should put a stop to the overreacting” in the schools. We consider it to be a significant advancement. “.

Additionally, the Governor’s Office saw the settlement as a victory over “activists and extremists” who sought to “smear and stop” the law.

The office stated that attempts to distort the goals and intent of the law had been unsuccessful in a news release. It stated that the settlement indicates the law will stay in place.

As it was in the public sphere by the media and powerful corporate actors, we battled hard to make sure this law couldn’t be demonized in court, General Counsel Ryan Newman stated in the statement. “We’ve won, and the Parental Rights in Education Act will keep Florida’s classrooms secure. “.

A memo stating that the law is not as restrictive as some schools have interpreted it will be sent to all school districts by the Florida Department of Education as part of the agreement. It will include the following clarifications:.

References to LGBTQ+ individuals, families, or issues in the classroom are permitted by law. This includes in class discussions, literature, and academic assignments like student essays.

All forms of gender identity and sexual orientation—heterosexuality, homosexuality, and other identities—are prohibited from being taught in schools and must be taught neutrally. Saying that one is better than the other would be unacceptable.

The law does not cover library books that are not being used in class lessons because it relates to instruction. In its defense against different lawsuits contesting the removal of library books, the state brought up this point.

Furthermore, the settlement makes clear that, contrary to what some districts have done, the law does not forbid teachers from teaching students about ending bullying based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, nor does it mandate the removal of safe space stickers that are typically linked to protections for LGBTQ+ students.

Not only does it not forbid student performances featuring LGBTQ+ themes, but it also does not forbid student organizations like the Gay-Straight Alliance, book fairs featuring books featuring LGBTQ+ characters, or clothes that deviates from accepted gender norms from being worn by students.

Lastly, the settlement makes it clear that non-school employees, including parents, relatives, and outside speakers who don’t come to the school to discuss gender identity or sexual orientation, are exempt from the law. It does not apply to other laws that deal with related issues, like those that deal with transgender students playing sports on high school girls’ teams.

Following rulings by two courts that the plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue their case, the agreement was reached. They had challenged the decisions.

It might have taken an additional two years or more to reach a settlement if they had pursued the lawsuit.

The Miami-Dade County couple filing the lawsuit, Amy Morrison and Cecile Houry, expressed their satisfaction at having a solution in place that will have an instant influence on their kids’ schools.

Because the law was so ambiguous, people avoided everything, according to Houry, so it will make a significant difference. This is where it really lays out what is and is not allowed in detail. The experience of the students will change as a result. “.

She described her 7-year-old daughter as lively and honest with everyone. Including the details of her two mothers.

“At this age, my child never stops talking about everything,” the mother remarked. “Now that I’m not worrying about everything she says, I feel better. “.

Morrison expressed her hope that the public would not believe that the plaintiffs reached a settlement with the state.

She remarked, “This settlement is not settling.”.

She conceded that the words on paper might not cause some people to alter their behavior. It is likely that attitudes revealed by the bill and its execution will endure.

According to Morrison, “there will be remnants where it doesn’t matter what the law says or what the settlement says.”. But the law is important. The legislation is now in place. “.

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