At the request of Governor Ron DeSantis, who is poised to run for president of the United States, the Florida Board of Education has passed a restriction on classroom education about sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, broadening the “Don’t Say Gay” statute that opponents name it.
According to a representative for the education department, the proposal, which was approved on Wednesday, will go into force following a procedural notice period that lasts roughly a month. Lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity would be prohibited from grades 4 through 12 unless mandated by current state standards or included in reproductive health training that students can opt out of.
Such lessons are currently forbidden from kindergarten through third grade in Florida. The idea was put up by the DeSantis administration last month as part of the hardline conservative agenda of the Republican Party, with the governor primarily relying on racial and cultural divisions in advance of his impending presidential campaign. DeSantis hasn’t offered any feedback on the idea.
He had previously questioned Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., who had responded that the plan was intended to dispel any ambiguity surrounding the current law and to emphasize the need of sticking to the established curricula. On Wednesday, Paul Burns, chancellor of the state’s division of public schools, told the board that “our instruction should be based on state academic standards.”
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The restriction, which went into effect last year with a law prohibiting lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, has sparked a fierce outcry from opponents who claim it marginalizes LGBTQ+ individuals and has ambiguous language that causes teachers to self-censor.
It has been referred to as “hateful” by Democratic US President Joe Biden. The Walt Disney Company, one of the biggest employers in the state and a major political donor, and the present statute are both at the heart of an ongoing dispute. DeSantis pushed lawmakers to provide him control of a self-governing zone that Disney oversees in its theme park facilities after the entertainment behemoth openly opposed the proposal last year.
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Disney’s board imposed restrictive covenants that deprive the incoming members of the majority of their authority before a group of new DeSantis appointees could take control of the district, tempering the governor’s vengeance. DeSantis said he would pursue more legislative measures against the firm and has asked the chief inspector general to look into the Disney board’s decision.
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