Under Florida law, other states try to limit some LGBTQ discussions in schools


bill similar Florida’s Controversial Legislation At least 15 states are considering banning certain guidance on sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, according to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union and reviewed by CNN.

Some of the bills go further than Florida’s law, dubbed “Don’t Talk Gay” by its critics, sparking heated discussions across the country about LGBTQ rights, education policy and parental involvement in the classroom.

The debate reflects the power of sensitivity LGBTQ rights are on the rise At a time when some parents are seeking to invest more in their children’s education, especially in COVID-19 Pandemic.

Republicans say discussions around gender identity and sexuality are inappropriate for young children “Parental Rights” There is a push to reduce such conversations in schools, although parental views on the matter vary widely. LGBTQ rights advocates see this as a conscious decision to stigmatize vulnerable groups in American society, as well as a potential chilling effect on what they believe is a desperately needed discussion.

Gillian Branstetter, communications strategist at the ACLU, told CNN: “These bills are based on the belief that queer identities are an epidemic and that straight, cisgender identities are somehow more pure. or more correctly.” “Indeed, every student has the right to have their own life story reflected in them, and every student can benefit from stories that serve as windows into the lives of people different from them. Censorship and homogenization benefit no one while denying all students an equal opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.”

The ACLU has tracked 61 bills in 26 states, though efforts have failed in several states, including Mississippi and Montana.Earlier this month, Arkansas approved limit No objection to such discussions until fourth grade.

Ultimately, it’s unclear how many bills will pass.human rights movement Report A statement released in January said that of the 315 anti-LGBTQ bills they believe were introduced nationwide last year, only 29 — less than 10 percent — became law.

florida law, titled the Parental Rights in Education Act, prohibits classroom instruction in kindergarten through third grade about sexual orientation or gender identity “or in a manner that is inappropriate for the age or development of students that does not meet state standards.” It also requires school districts to notify parents of significant changes in a student’s mental or emotional well-being, which LGBTQ rights advocates say could lead to some students being told their parents without the student’s knowledge or consent.

“We will continue to recognize that in Florida, parents play an important role in their children’s education, health care and well-being. We will not change that,” Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said. explain When he signs the bill in March 2022.

According to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit think tank that advocates for issues such as LGBTQ rights, Florida’s law is a catalyst for bills currently being considered in other states, including:

  • iowa bill Passed by state legislature last week, banning the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten to sixth grade.
  • a bill in Oregon This would prohibit any discussion of gender identity from kindergarten through third grade without parental notification and consent.
  • legislation in Alaska This will require parents to be notified two weeks before “the delivery of any activity, course or program to children that includes content addressing gender identity, human reproduction or sexuality”.
  • Multiple bills in Florida attempt to build on last year’s legislation, including one This requires stating that “sex is determined by biology and reproductive function at birth” and other Requiring employees to use pronouns that do not match a student’s gender is prohibited.

A recurring theme in the legislation is that school staff must notify parents if a child expresses a desire to be addressed by a pronoun that matches their gender identity if the pronoun differs from that assigned at birth.

“We’re not saying you can’t do it,” said Washington Republican state Sen. Phil Fortunato legislation This will limit the teaching of gender and sexual identity from kindergarten through third grade, told CNN. “I mean, I don’t agree, but, you know, if the parent and the child agree, that’s their decision. But they shouldn’t be doing it behind their parents’ backs when the child is in school. That’s the whole point of the bill.”

Missouri bill Uniquely far-reaching: No employee of a public school or charter school may “encourage the adoption of gender identity or sexual orientation by students under the age of 18,” even though the meaning of “encourage” in the law is not interpreted as such. School officials will be required to notify parents immediately if their children confide in them about “discomfort or confusion” about their “official status,” and teachers will not be allowed to use their preferred pronouns without prior parental consent to call students.

The bill specifically calls for whistleblower protections for school employees who report violators, who would face “charges for attempting to suspend or revoke a teacher’s license to teach based on allegations of incompetence, immorality or negligence.”

in a blog post Titled “A Crime Against Our Children,” Republican State Sen. Mike Moon of Missouri, who sponsored the legislation, called it “the lie that boys can be girls and girls can be boys.”

“However, one thing we have to agree on is that parents have a responsibility to raise their children,” he continued. “For this to happen, parents must be involved in their children’s education.”

If enacted, the measures could face swift legal challenges, though at least two efforts to block the Florida law have so far failed to remove it from the books. One of the lawsuits, filed by a group of students, parents and teachers in Florida, was dismissed last month by Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Alan Windsor, who said the challengers could not prove they had been harmed. law.

“Plaintiffs have shown strong dissent from the new law, claiming that the facts show that its existence has caused them deep hurt and disappointment,” Windsor wrote in his order. “However, to invoke the jurisdiction of the federal courts, They have to file more charges. If they don’t, they need to be fired.”

At the heart of the opponent’s concern is the ambiguity of legal language. They point out that LGBTQ issues are often not a formal part of the public school curriculum, leaving educators who may have to identify legal fault lines as much as their careers are at stake.

“What counts as classroom discussion? As classroom instruction? Is it just the coursework?” asked Alice O’Brien, general counsel for Alice O’Brien, in an interview with CNN. “For example, does it include a teacher’s lesson plans, or is it broad enough to include classroom discussions? A teacher answers students’ questions, a teacher might intervene in a student bullying because of another student’s prestige, sexual orientation, or gender identity The incident with another student? It is very unclear what is prohibited and what is not prohibited.”

There are other problems. MAP Associate Director Naomi G. Goldberg is concerned about “the ability of teachers themselves to support students in the classroom and the chilling effect of students themselves in the classroom.”

A similar view is in CNN column Claire McCully, a transgender mother outraged by the Florida law, made the suggestion last year.

“Like other parents, I want my family to feel welcome and accepted by others at school,” McCully wrote. “Of course, if kids are reading stories in class that have two dads, two moms, or even a transgender mom, then that acceptance is more likely.”

Cathryn Oakley, state legislative director and senior advisor to the Human Rights Campaign, told CNN that using students’ preferred pronouns is harmless to other students but has profound implications for transgender children themselves. She urged a cautious approach, recognizing that schools needed to be safe places for vulnerable children, especially if children went out before they were ready could lead to “rejection and even violence in the family”.

“Nobody suggested that this was information that had nothing to do with the parents,” she said. “But what we’re saying is that young people should be able to have that conversation with their parents on their own terms, rather than having a third party forced into a conversation that could put a child at risk.”

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