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I read the text for Florida's "Parental Rights in Education" bill. One of the clause in it under "Student Welfare" is:

  1. Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

I am curious: Could this be used to ban talk of straight couples in kindergarten to grade 3? After all, being straight is a sexual orientation, which this bill prevents the talk of. As such, wouldn't any rendering of two people who like each other be banned (or, at least, you would not be permitted to specify the gender of said people)? Same with any talk of two people who "love each other"? Classroom personnel would not be allowed to specify the genders of the two people, or might not be able to say that at all?

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    I think this would be better on Law SE?
    – lidar
    Aug 20, 2023 at 22:48
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    I agree that this would be better on law. While the issue in general is very political how a law will work in practice isn't.
    – Joe W
    Aug 20, 2023 at 22:57
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    I have rolled back the changes you have made as questions and answers in SE's must stick to the facts. We are different from other social media sites in the sense that we strive to be a scholarly (as much as possible :) resource for learning. If the law is known to its critics as the "Don't say gay" law, then mention that and include citations to support that assertions from reputed media sources in the question. Note that even if you do so, your question should still not look like a propaganda piece peddling a particular political view point or others here will vote to close your question.
    – sfxedit
    Aug 21, 2023 at 14:20
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    @sfxedit If you make edits to another users question and they roll it back you should not roll it back to your edits. In the end it is their question and you don't get the final say on the content of that question. If you think that leaves the question in a bad state you should vote to close or flag for a moderator to review not get into an edit war with the person who wrote the question.
    – Joe W
    Aug 21, 2023 at 18:29
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    This came up in the VtC queue, and unfortunately I've added my VtC: "Could this be used" is an opinion-generating comment, IMO. It could be used for anything.
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 22, 2023 at 13:23

2 Answers 2

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No, but actually Yes

Formally it is said that the law only applies to "classroom discussion", and only when not "age appropriate".

The intended takeaway is supposed to be its to stop inappropriate lesson plan by crazy teachers. Two problems with that:

  1. The law doesn't specify what counts as "classroom discussion". Would discussing things count? Would answering simple questions count? What if something comes up while discussing a permitted topic?

  2. The law doesn't specify what is actually "age appropriate".

Now the idea this law will be used against innocuous mention of homosexuals might seem like bogus concerns, because there's no way that's what the law could mean. But https://www.npr.org/2023/05/16/1176334055/florida-investigating-teacher-disney-movie-gay-character-desantis . A teacher in trouble because they showed a Disney movie where one kid had a crush on another kid. So regardless of whether the law should or is intended to punish such trivial content, it clearly, as a matter of practice, does.

The legislature doesn't even try to clearly define who the law can be used against, they left it to further define.

The Executive have the nominal powers to further define the law, but as we can see from the AP Psych debacle, the effects it's having aren't meeting their stated determinations. The Executive say their rules don't stop AP Psych, but AP Psych has been stopped in response to this law.

The Judicial, too, isn't capable of preventing unintended or unwanted damage. They weren't even involved before teachers were effectively punished.

So while the writers of the law say no, and the intention is no, even if the law did say no, we can't say no. This law is not sufficiently crafted nor executed to say that it can't or won't be used against sexual orientation discussion regarding heterosexuality.

Remember this is a state that openly claimed they would punish Disney for its political speech. And then did so.

(When I was in elementary school, it was common to know of a teacher's spouse. That's sexuality content...)

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    Furthermore, they accused Disney of being leftist. It's hilarious every time I read it.
    – Jme
    Aug 21, 2023 at 22:23
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    The statute is delegating authority to decide on the standards to the executive branch, that's why it's not very detailed. Presumably they expect the Department of Education (or whatever FL calls it) to make more detailed definitions of terms and define when and what can be discussed in which grades. Aug 21, 2023 at 23:50
  • Nominally, maybe. But as the link shows, in practice, it's still punitive for reasonable content
    – bharring
    Aug 22, 2023 at 0:06
  • @bharring Unfortunately your definition of reasonable content doesn't match that of the elected politicians of that state.
    – CGCampbell
    Aug 22, 2023 at 13:27
  • Ostensibly neither does the implementation. Teh elected officials have come out and said their interpretation doesn't block AP Psychology, but in implementation it did. Similarly, relevant elected officials haven't claimed their interpretation would punish teachers for showing a Disney movie where someone has a crush, but the example above shows it in fact did. Hence the "no but actually yes" - whether or not it formally is supposed to have an effect, it clearly does.
    – bharring
    Aug 23, 2023 at 17:12
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No. The law doesn't say talks on sexual orientation or gender identity are prohibited in class but that it should only be taught or discussed as per the academic standards set by the state for these subjects. This is clearer if we omit the phrase "in kindergarten and grade 3" in the proposed law:

Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.

Of course, this does mean that the state can very well decide that kids below grade 3 are too young to learn about sexual orientation and gender identity, and accordingly set standards that prevent teachers from discussing these subjects in class.

(As pointed out in the comments, the education board of the state is indeed involved in a public tussle with College Board to modify its content in AP Psychology to omit the subject of sexual orientation and gender identity for grade 4 and above - Florida effectively bans AP Psychology for gender, sex content: College Board).

Nevertheless, even in such a situation, it doesn't mean that teachers will be expected to tip-toe around sexual orientation or gender identity when teaching or discussing about relationships.

For example, consider this scenario - a teacher is telling a fictional tale about a kid named John (who has heterosexual parents) and mentions the mom and dad. A student in the class having homosexual parents may get confused with the reference of a female mom and male dad. He may interrupt the teacher and say, "Sir, how come John has a mom who is girl and a dad who is a boy when my parents are both girls?". The teacher may simply say, "Oh, some kids have mom and dad who are both either boys or even girls, like yours, and some have a girl mom and a boy dad, like John in our story. You will learn more about relationships in grade 4."

Sure, some curious kid will talk about this at home. And a homophobic parent may become upset at hearing this. They may file a complaint to harass the teacher. But in a fair court, the complaint will be very likely dismissed because the teacher acted appropriately and to the letter of the law. (Of course, if the matter has reached the court, that would imply that the school administration did not treat the complaint fairly. Sadly, such laws can certainly be used to harass teachers, and that could definitely be one of the political intent behind it.)

And of course, just like the homophobic parents, there may be pedantic people who may file a complaint against the teacher (or the school) for teaching a story with a straight couple. ;) Either way, Florida teachers are going to have a tough time ....

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    Wouldn’t the right response from the teacher be “We’re not allowed to discuss this yet”? Aug 21, 2023 at 4:11
  • @JonathanReez - No, because the expanded guidelines prohibit it in all grades. Of course, opponents of the law have pointed out that the purpose was always to prevent all teaching about LBGTQ identity.
    – Obie 2.0
    Aug 21, 2023 at 4:17
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    Tons of comments deleted. Please remember that this is not a discussion forum. Comments should be used to discuss how the answer could be improved, not to debate its subject matter. Please read the help center article on the commenting privilege before you engage in lengthy discussions.
    – Philipp
    Aug 22, 2023 at 9:00

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