LGBTQ teachers in Florida have been instructed to conceal their identities and remove rainbows from schools as Florida’s hateful Don’t Say Gay legislation comes into effect.
Republican governor Ron DeSantis (pictured above) signed the contentious legislation into law in March.
It bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten to grade 3 and also restrict such instruction in grades 4-12.
Any such instruction must be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for students, but fails to define what that means.
Under the law, parents are able to sue school districts for violating the measures.
But Equality Florida warns the legislation’s vague language is deliberate to scare schools into a homophobic crackdown.
“Since the inception of this hateful policy, lawmakers have assured the public it wouldn’t lead to censorship or erasure of LGBTQ people,” the group’s Political Director Joe Saunders said.
“But our community has always known the truth. The Don’t Say Gay law has always been fueled by anti-LGBTQ animus.
“It’s designed to further stigmatize the LGBTQ community. Ban books about us, erase us from classrooms, and force us back into the closet.”
Rainbows reportedly pulled from schools over Don’t Say Gay law
Equality Florida says the “bigoted and dangerous” law was already having a chilling effect on Florida’s school.
Since March, the group has received over 50 complaints of censorship targeting the LGBTQ community.
In the past week, the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association publicly accused school officials of instructing teachers to not speak about their own same-sex partners and remove family photos from classrooms.
Officials also reportedly barred staff from wearing clothing with rainbows, local media reported. Officials also reportedly instructed them to peel rainbow “safe space” stickers from doors.
Elsewhere, one Florida student made headlines for his clever dodging of a ban on the word “gay” in his graduation speech.
At another high school, officials censored yearbooks to black out pages covering student-led protests against the Don’t Say Gay bill.
Biden administration blasts shameful law
The day Florida’s law took effect, the Biden administration blasted the “shameful” legislation.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the law is “discrimination, plain and simple” in a statement.
“Today, some of Florida’s most vulnerable students and families are more fearful and less free,” she said.
“As the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law takes effect, state officials who claim to champion liberty are limiting the freedom of their fellow Americans simply to be themselves.”
Karine Jean-Pierre pointed to the reported examples of censorship within schools.
“This is not an issue of ‘parents’ rights.’ This is discrimination, plain and simple,” she said.
“It’s part of a disturbing and dangerous nationwide trend of right-wing politicians cynically targeting LGBTQI+ students, educators, and individuals to score political points.
“It encourages bullying and threatens students’ mental health, physical safety, and wellbeing.
“It censors dedicated teachers and educators who want to do the right thing and support their students. And it must stop.”
Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden said every student deserves to feel safe and welcome in the classroom.
“The Department of Education will monitor this law,” she said.
“Any student or parent who believes they’re experiencing discrimination is encouraged to file a complaint with the Department’s Office for Civil Rights.
“Our administration will continue to fight for dignity and opportunity for every student and family – in Florida and around the country.”
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