Florida To Revoke Licenses Of K-3 Teachers Who Discuss Gender Identity, Sexuality
The rule, proposed in September by Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., would enforce a 2021 state law that prohibits instruction on gender identity and sexuality for children in kindergarten through third grade - the Parental Rights in Education Act, colloquially known by opponents as the "don't say gay" law.
According to the rule, any teacher who "intentionally provide[s] classroom instruction" to K-3 students on those topics will face "revocation or suspension of the individual educator's certificate, or the other penalties as provided by law."
The 2021 law already requires schools to create a system via which parents can report teacher noncompliance with the law. If a school system does not address a parent's concerns, the law makes it easy for parents to sue and says the Florida Department of Education can launch an investigation of the district.
The rule on teachers' licenses drew immediate condemnation from some teacher groups and LGBTQ advocates. Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, executive director of LGBTQ rights group GLSEN, said in a statement Thursday that the Florida rule "will harm LGBTQ+ students, who we know benefit by having supportive teachers and inclusive curriculum in the classroom." -WaPo
The Dept. of Education rule was published as Hurricane Ian hit, and was first reported last Tuesday by the Progress Report.
A spokesman for the department said on Thursday evening that "it should not be surprising that educators are at risk of having their certificates sanctioned if they violate state law. The proposed amendment will change nothing for teachers who follow the law and are focused on providing high-quality classroom instruction aligned to state academic standards."