Ron DeSantis, University of Florida, DEI

Florida Teachers Now Allowed To Discuss Gender ID Following Historic ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Settlement

Look at Florida doing something right for a change!

A settlement has been reached in Florida allowing students and teachers to discuss sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms — as long as it’s not a part of lesson plans. 

The settlement, reached on Mar. 11 between numerous advocacy groups, the Florida Board of Education, and the state of Florida, solidifies what is allowed in classrooms, following the signing of the Parental Rights in Education Act by Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the BOE will send instructions to each school district saying the law no longer prohibits the discussion of LGBTQ+ people, prevents anti-bullying rules on a sexual orientation and gender identity basis, or bans Gay-Straight Alliance groups. The law is now neutral under the settlement, meaning whatever applies to heterosexual people also applies to the LGBTQ+ community. 

The controversial legislation, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades kindergarten through three. Opponents said the law caused confusion surrounding whether teachers could identify themselves as LGBTQ+ or if they even could have rainbow stickers in their classrooms.

After advocacy groups like the National Center for Lesbian Rights failed to have the law overturned in federal court, legal director Shannon Minter called the settlement “historic” and “nullifies the most dangerous and discriminatory impacts.” “Today’s settlement reaffirms the rights of Florida’s students and teachers to discuss and learn about LGBTQ+ people openly, marking a victory for free expression and inclusivity for LGBTQ+ students, families, and teachers alike,” Minter said in a press release, according to The Tallahassee Democrat. 

The settlement is also a massive win in the fight against banning books. According to the agreement, the law doesn’t apply to books with LGBTQ+ character references or same-sex couples “as they are not instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity any more than a math problem asking students to add bushels of apples is instruction on apple farming.”

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Roberta Kaplan, thinks that discussing fundamental principles should never have been controversial and hopes this is a victory for all Americans.

“What this settlement does is it re-establishes the fundamental principle that I hope all Americans agree with, which is every kid in this country is entitled to an education at a public school where they feel safe, their dignity is respected, and where their families and parents are welcomed,” she said.

“This shouldn’t be a controversial thing.”

DeSantis’ office sees the victory in another way. “It’s a major win against the activists who sought to stop Florida’s efforts to keep radical gender and sexual ideology out of the classrooms of public school children,” his office wrote in an email. As a result of the settlement, the case will now be dismissed.

The law created a domino effect of similar legislation templates in states including Iowa, North Carolina, and Alabama. Republican lawmakers argue that parents should be the ones to bring up such subjects. Florida state attorney Ryan Newman feels the settlement will keep classrooms a “safe space.” “We fought hard to ensure this law couldn’t be maligned in court, as it was in the public arena by the media and large corporate actors,” Newman said. 

“We are victorious, and Florida’s classrooms will remain a safe place under the Parental Rights in Education Act.”