TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida education officials voted on Wednesday to prohibit any classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in all of the state’s public schools.
The amended rule extends the current pre-K to third-grade curriculum restrictions through high school, with a few exceptions. “We are clarifying what our standards already say.” Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz said.
The rule states, “Shall not intentionally provide classroom instruction to students in grades 4 through 12 on sexual orientation or gender identity unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards as adopted in Rule 6A-1.09401, F.A.C., or is part of a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend.”
Dozens took to public comment Wednesday to either oppose or support the new rule.
Jon Harris Mauer with Equality Florida says things aren’t clear enough, “We’re concerned that the new rule extending even further now through twelfth grade doubles down on the vagueness that we’ve already seen in rules and will make it that much more difficult for teachers to know how to comply in good faith and will make it that much more difficult for teachers to know how to comply in good faith.”
A similar rule is making its way through the legislature in bills, HB 1069 and SB 1320. Both would broaden the parental rights in education bill passed in 2022, which prohibits teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to pre-k through eighth grades.
“Everybody has the right to control the upbringing and the emotional well-being and age-appropriate content that their children are exposed to.” Jessica Graham, Moms for Liberty Hillsborough County chair said. “I don’t believe for law-abiding quality teachers that’s going to be an issue for them in the first place. I think it’s just going to essentially codify something that’s common sense.”
If a teacher violates the new rule they could face suspension or have their teaching license revoked. Schools will have at least 30 plus days to prepare for the changes before they take effect.