Florida's so-called 'Don't Say Gay' policy could be expanded into high school

Instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity is barred through grade 3.

ByKiara Alfonseca ABCNews logo
Thursday, March 23, 2023
DeSantis doubles down on controversial 'Don't Say Gay' bill
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is seeking to expand a state law to ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in all grades.

A proposed Florida Board of Education rule could expand restrictions on classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

"For grades 4 through 12, instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited unless such instruction is either expressly required by state academic standards ... 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," according to the proposed rule.

This rule would build up on the Parental Rights in Education law Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March 2022. The law bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

It states that any instruction on those topics cannot occur "in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards," according to the legislation.

SEE ALSO: Florida bill would ban gender studies and give Gov. Ron DeSantis more power over state universities

Students at the University of North Florida walked out in protest against Gov. Ron DeSantis and his policies concerning race in higher education, WJXX reports.

A spokesperson for the governor told ABC News' Rachel Scott in a statement, "There is no reason for instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity to be part of K-12 public education. Full stop."

The law was dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" law by critics, who said it aimed to shun LGBTQ identities from classroom content and discussion.

Laura McGinnis of the LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG told ABC News that "everyone has a sexual orientation and a gender identity. It looks like this rule would make it impossible to do much instruction at all."

This rule, voted on by the seven-member board, coincides with other legislation being considered in the state legislature.

HB 1223 would ban classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in pre-kindergarten through grade 8, and would not require any employee or student to refer to a another person using their "preferred personal title or pronouns" if it does not correspond to that person's sex. The proposed legislation would also make it a statewide public school policy that "it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person's sex."

A hearing on the proposed board policy will be held on April 19 at the Florida State Capitol Complex.