Monday, April 15, 2024

Florida teachers are now allowed to talk about topics related to sexuality and gender identity in specific classroom situations, according to a recent legal agreement

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Florida education officials and LGBTQ advocates have come to an agreement about a law that some people call the “Don’t Say Gay” law. The agreement makes it clear that students and teachers can talk about sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms, but only if it’s not part of the main teaching.

A bunch of people, like civil rights groups, parents, students, and teachers, took legal action against the law shortly after Florida’s Republican governor signed it in March 2022. They said the law was too unclear and would stop discussions about LGBTQ topics in schools because teachers weren’t sure if they were allowed to talk about them.

The settlement announced on Monday says that the law only applies when teachers are formally teaching in class. It doesn’t stop students and teachers from discussing gender or sexuality during class activities or schoolwork. The law also doesn’t ban books in libraries that talk about LGBTQ stuff.

This agreement comes at a time when some conservative groups across the country are pushing for laws that limit discussions about gender and sexuality in schools, as well as bans on books with LGBTQ content in libraries and schools. Critics say these actions are aimed at reducing LGBTQ representation and rights.

In Florida, some teachers were confused by the “Don’t Say Gay” law. For example, one fifth-grade teacher got into trouble for showing a movie with a gay character. LGBTQ teachers also felt they couldn’t talk about their lives or answer students’ questions without getting in trouble.

A lawyer for the people who took legal action against the law said this settlement is a big win for LGBTQ students, teachers, parents, and their allies in Florida. It makes it clear that LGBTQ people can openly talk about who they are.

The people who took legal action included Equality Florida, a group that supports LGBTQ rights, and Family Equality, a nonprofit from New York.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who supported the law, sees the settlement as a victory. He says the law will still be in place, and the case against it will likely be dropped soon.

Under the agreement, the Florida Board of Education will tell school districts about the changes.

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