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Florida Board of Education Faces Proceedings Over Parental Rights in Education

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Parents, students, and nonprofits have filed federal proceedings against four Florida school districts, challenging the constitutionality of new state law that limits the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation in the classroom.

The proceedings filed in a federal court in Orlando on Monday were of law passed during this year’s legislative session (HB 1557) after intense debate by the Boards of Education in the Orange, Indian River, Duval, and Palm Beach counties. I am trying to prevent the implementation.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers allege in a 53-page complaint that the law violates the rights to first amendment, due process and equal protection, and improperly chills discussions on issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation. Did.

“Florida has enacted HB1557 to silence and eliminate cross-examination of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers, and young people and families,” the proceedings said. “The law is very vague and schools require that a wide range of undefined categories of speech be banned based on undefined criteria such as” appropriateness. ” “

The law, which is attracting national attention, prohibits the guidance of gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten to third grade, and in higher grades, “according to age … conforming to state academic standards”. It is obligatory.

Republican lawmakers have dubbed the bill the “Custody in Education” bill. Opponents named it a “not gay” bill.

Opponents also of the bill in a federal lawsuit filed in Tallahassee against Governor Ron Desantis, the State Board of Education, the Florida Department of Education, the Board of Education Manny Diaz Jr. and several boards of education. He challenged the constitutionality. The proceeding is pending.

However, the proceedings filed on Monday only nominated four boards of education as defendants, and plaintiffs alleged that the law changed the way sexual orientation and gender identity-related issues were dealt with. ing.

As an example, the law says that the Orange County and Palm Beach County districts are now removing LGBTQ-related materials from the school library. The Palm Beach County Board of Education also said last month that it adopted a policy to implement the law.

“School teachers in Palm Beach County review all classroom books to explain the sexual orientation and gender identity of grades K-3, and are suitable for the age and development of grades 4-12. You have already been instructed to remove what you don’t have. About the teacher’s “uncertainty”, “the lawsuit said.

In part, plaintiffs’ lawyers have targeted what they claim to be the ambiguity of the law. For example, they said state standards have not been developed for what is considered age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.

“The ambiguity of HB1557 inevitably leads to and continues to discriminatory and arbitrary application and enforcement across different school districts,” said Lambda Legal, Southern Poverty Law Center, Southern Legal Adviser, and Baker. The lawsuit filed by the company’s lawyer states. Mackenzie.

In addition, the complaint states that the school district may face costly proceedings if parents believe it is in breach of the law.

“This self-defense enforcement mechanism, combined with the deliberately ambiguous and widespread scope of the law, has appealed to parents who oppose any approval of the existence of LGBTQ + people, resulting in schools being students, parents. , Acting aggressively to silence school staff, “said the proceedings. .. “The law, by design, has nothing to do with sexual orientation or gender identity, but it cools speech and expression.”

Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office last month asked Judge Allen Windsor of the US District Court to dismiss the constitutional objection filed in Tallahassee. The motion, in part, argued that the state had the right to set up a public school curriculum.

“The HB1557, which was dubbed” don’t say gay “by opponents as a bill, is not like that,” a state motion said. “Instead of prohibiting the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, the law explicitly allows age- and developmentally appropriate education on these subjects. In line with its modest restrictions, the law is at its best. Prohibit classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity of younger children and introduce them to their sensitive topics as they deem appropriate, regardless of their views. It allows things to be neutral.

The motion also disputed that “the legislature acted hostile to LGBTQ individuals.”

“The bill does not reflect the government’s preference for what students should learn about sexual orientation and gender identity,” a state lawyer wrote. “These subjects must be taught properly and for the youngest children may be taught by parents rather than in public school classroom settings. It is a legitimate (state) interest. “

Plaintiffs in a proceeding filed in Orlando on Monday include Jen and Matt Cousins, parents of four children in Orange County’s school. Will Larkins, an up-and-coming senior at Winter Park High School in Orange County and president of the school’s queer student union. A same-sex marriage couple with two children at a school in Indian River County, David Dinant and Vikgongidi. The non-profit CentreLink, Inc. has members in the Orange, Duval and Palm Beach counties, including the LGTBQ Community Center.