DeSantis Administration Expands ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law to High School
Remember when Ron DeSantis said his “Don’t Say Gay” bill was only intended for children younger than the third grade? Well, that was bullshit.
On Wednesday, the Florida Board of Education voted to expand the provisions of HB 1223, which banned teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida’s kindergarten through third-grade classrooms, to apply the law’s restrictions all the way up through 12th grade.
The DeSantis administration announced last month that it was moving to expand the law, with the BOE scheduling a vote on the proposed revisions.
The amended rule “prohibits classroom instruction to students in pre-kindergarten through Grade 3 on sexual orientation or 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.”
Florida’s implementation of HB 1223 has been the subject of national opposition and confusion from teachers and school administrators. As previously reported by Rolling Stone, the state and school districts offered little to no guidance to teachers regarding how the new law was to take effect. As a result, many classrooms and educational facilities have been stripped of any and all references to the LGBTQ community, a decision critics argue amounts to discrimination against LGBTQ students and staff.
DeSantis’ crusade to expel even the slightest whiff of progressive ideology has also met challenges at the university level. In March, a Florida judge blocked the government’s request to overrule an injunction on the implementation of the “Stop Woke” Act in the state’s public universities and colleges. The law seeks to ban the teaching of topics deemed related to Critical Race Theory, and the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools across the state.
In January, the state blocked the College Board from implementing a pilot version of its proposed Advanced Placement African American Studies (APAAS) curriculum, on grounds that the course violated the state’s “anti-woke” policies.
While DeSantis and his administration insisted that blatant efforts to reshape Florida’s education system into a bastion of conservative thought were only intended to protect young children, they have at this point ensured that every pupil in the state — be they kindergarteners or college students — feel the effects.DeSantis is using the crackdown to aid his expected 2024 presidential campaign, but it’s had unintended consequences.
The public reaction to the bill kicked off an ongoing feud between DeSantis’ administration and one of the biggest companies in Florida, Disney. After the entertainment giant publicly signaled its opposition to the bill, the governor responded by stripping the company of special tax and administrative benefits granted to them in the area where Disney World is situated. Earlier this week, after some clever legal maneuvering by Disney crippled the state’s hostile takeover of the Reedy Creek Improvement District’s administrative board, DeSantis announced that he would push the Florida legislature to force the board under state control, and threatened to build a prison next to one of the state’s biggest economic drivers.