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DeSantis sees lawsuit settlement as a win, but teachers can continue to teach radical gender ideology in class


Florida – Florida has reached a settlement in a lawsuit, that has drawn attention from both advocates and critics, concerning a state law about classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity. This settlement, reached through the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, marks a critical point in the ongoing debate over educational content and LGBTQ+ rights.

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The Core of the Parental Rights in Education Act

The Parental Rights in Education Act, signed into law by Governor DeSantis in April 2022, sets forth specific guidelines aimed at regulating the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity within the classroom environment. The law specifically prohibits classroom instruction on these topics for students in kindergarten through third grade, approximately ages 5 to 9. For students beyond the third grade, discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity are to be kept age-appropriate.

Settlement Achievements and Reactions

Both the state of Florida and LGBTQ advocacy groups, including Equality Florida, have hailed the settlement as a victory. According to Equality Florida, the settlement achieves the following:

  • Free Expression Restored: The settlement allows students and teachers to openly discuss and write about sexual orientation and gender identity in classroom participation and assignments, ensuring that dialogue around these topics is uninhibited.
  • Anti-Bullying Protections Strengthened: With reinforced safeguards against bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the settlement underscores the importance of a safe learning environment for all students.
  • Gay-Straight Alliances Protected: The settlement officially protects Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), affirming their role as crucial support and advocacy spaces within schools.
  • Classroom References Clarified: It clarifies that the law does not restrict references to LGBTQ+ individuals, relationships, families, or related topics in any educational or extracurricular setting, promoting a more comprehensive and inclusive curriculum.
  • Non-Discrimination Assured: The agreement explicitly prohibits targeting LGBTQ+ persons, couples, families, or issues under the guise of the law, ensuring protection against discrimination.
  • Extracurricular Activities Protected: The settlement preserves the participation in and support of LGBTQ+ student clubs and cultural presentations, recognizing the importance of extracurricular activities in student life.

Meanwhile, the office of Governor Ron DeSantis celebrated the outcome as “a major win against the activists,” emphasizing that the law’s primary goal was to “keep radical gender and sexual ideology out of the classrooms.” According to Governor DeSantis’ office, the legal battle over the Parental Rights in Education Act has concluded with the law remaining intact. The settlement reached is seen as a validation of the state’s efforts to maintain classroom discussions appropriate and free from ideologies deemed radical.

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The law, which critics have dubbed “don’t say gay,” has sparked widespread controversy and has served as a blueprint for similar legislation in other states. It has become a focal point in the broader cultural wars, reflecting the country’s political polarization. Under the terms of the settlement, educators are provided with guidelines that maintain the law while allowing for more open classroom discussions on sex and gender. However, the agreement prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten through third grade, targeting ages 5 to 9.

One of the settlement’s stipulations is that it requires parental notification regarding healthcare services provided at the school, granting them the right to decline these services for their children. Additionally, should any questionnaires or health screenings be administered to K–3 students, parental consent is required beforehand, ensuring that parents have a say in the information presented to their children at this critical stage of their development.

Equality Florida views the settlement as a “landmark achievement” that mitigates the law’s potentially discriminatory effects. The agreement ensures protections for student clubs like the Gay-Straight Alliance and upholds nondiscrimination measures. Additionally, it prevents the banning of library books that align with classroom topics, addressing concerns that the law could be used as a tool for censorship or discrimination.

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