Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is eyeing the possibility of expanding his state’s Parental Rights in Education law to grades K-12.
The controversial law, signed into law last nearly a year ago, originally prohibited instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through the twelfth grade and additionally clamping down on instruction in later grades to ensure they are “age appropriate.”
At the time, critics were quick to hit back at the proposal, slamming the bill as “Don’t Say Gay” for allegedly stifling free expression of (and stripping the identities of) the LGBTQ+ community in Florida’s classroom conversations.
Protesters even got corporations – namely the Walt Disney Company – to side with them, later calling DeSantis to revoke the company’s self-governing status that once granted them special privileges, placing the organization under control of a state board instead.
Now, a rule proposed by DeSantis’ Board of Education could bring the still contentious parental rights policy to all grades across public education.
“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,” the proposed rule states.
The proposal would not require approval from the state legislature and the DeSantis appointee-led board is scheduled to vote on the measure next month.
The law previously faced legal action from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups Equality Florida and Family Equality, as well as students and teachers affiliated with public school systems from across The Sunshine State.
Federal Judge Allen Winsor, however, tossed the organizations’ lawsuit against the law last September, but they later revised their suit in accordance to guidelines from the dismissal.
A separate Florida bill, HB 1223, aims to bar instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from pre-k through the eighth grade and would effectively restrict preferred pronoun usage in public schools, defining “sex” as “the binary division of individuals based upon reproductive function.”
The bill furthermore alleges “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait” and adds that “it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.