With the start of the new school year in Florida this week, parents are filling out new forms, specifying nicknames and new names for their students. Allow your child to check out specific books from the library. Opt in or out of medical services ranging from counseling to temperature checks to calamine lotions and ice packs.
The new bureaucracy stems from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ increasingly strong push for “parental rights” in education, broadly limits classroom instruction on gender and sexuality, including high schools, and promotes transgender education. It contains new laws and regulations that prohibit the education of students and staff of Use gender identity-appropriate group restrooms.
Teachers will also be banned from asking students for their favorite pronouns and could be stripped of their professional credentials if they violate the new law. Course lists and classroom libraries are also under scrutiny, with districts seeking to remove content that touches on gender and sexuality, including classics like “Romeo and Juliet.”
Here’s how some Florida school districts interpret the rule: new law.
they have a form for that
The new regulations have created bureaucratic chaos, with several counties sending out parent forms that must be completed if a child is called by a different name.
In Orlando and the surrounding Orange County, school districts are often called “Rob,” even if “Robert” wanted to be called “Rob,” or a transgender child is now called “Roberta.” told him that he had to fill out a form.
But school staff School district attorney John C. Palmerini said he “may choose” not to use her pronouns when referring to Roberta. In a memo to district officials, he cited House Bill 1069, signed into law by Governor DeSantis in May, which defines “sex” as equivalent to “external genitalia present at birth,” providing guidance on gender and sexuality. said to be extensively restricted.
In the memo, Mr. Palmerini acknowledged confusion over whether staff could use a student’s preferred pronouns at the request of a transgender student’s parent. “The state board of education has no guidance on this exact question,” he wrote, but cautioned, suggesting that teachers concerned about liability avoid problems by calling students by their last names. urged.
But Carlos Guillermo-Smith, senior policy adviser at LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida, said, “The district is in a terrible position.” He said widespread restrictions were “an inevitable consequence of vague and bigoted laws.”
Michael Woods, a special education teacher in Palm Beach County, said at teacher training Wednesday that he would use the title “teacher” when referring to his transgender colleagues, rather than “teacher” or “teacher.” He said he was told he should. san, if that honorific does not match the gender assigned at birth.
They were also told not to call a transgender student by their preferred name unless they were confident the parent had returned the permit. He said he knew a transgender student whose parents were unlikely to do so because of religious objections.
Mr. Woods said of the new law, “It’s a conversation blocker.” “It stifles the relationship you have built with that young man.”
Palm Beach County schools did not respond to requests for comment.
new bathroom rules
New state regulations regarding the use of restrooms in schools have become clearer. Students, staff, and visitors are required to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender assigned at birth or use the private restroom. Districts violating this law can be fined up to $10,000.
Woods said the rule could effectively exclude transgender students and staff against their will. This is because they may be observed to visit only private toilets or to inquire about the location of toilets.
Literature under scrutiny
In Lee County on the Gulf Coast, parents have a new “media access form“
You can give your children unlimited access to the books in your library. Block any access. Alternatively, we allow children access to books, except those that have been challenged and reviewed, even if the content of the book is objectionable.
Under Florida law, the public can challenge books in school libraries to challenge works centered on concepts such as LGBTQ experience and systemic racism. It is a procedure often used in
The Lee County School District did not respond to a request for comment. But Kristy Devigilli of the Florida Citizens League, a conservative group that supports the new education regulations, said the new permits would be effective even if left-wing activists could use the same process to challenge books she would approve. said he would welcome the letter.
“That’s the beauty of democracy,” she said. “Nothing prevents a parent from being against any book in any library.”
The overall goal is to give parents “ultimate decision-making authority, and that’s exactly what the law is for,” she said.
Another regulation now requires state-certified media professionals to inspect each classroom library for books that contain prohibited content, such as depictions of “sexual activity.” ing.
That caused confusion. Tampa’s Hillsboro County initially meant that educators could be assigned excerpts from “Romeo and Juliet” but not entire plays, meaning that teenage lovers could complete their romances. I was told that it meant to let
But while the guidance may be in line with the law, it appeared to go against the intentions of national policymakers. On Tuesday, state school commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. named “Romeo and Juliet” his “Book of the Month” for August, alongside “Out of Slavery” by Booker T. Washington.
On Wednesday, Hillsborough Interim Superintendent Van Ayers sent a letter to the community, admitting that Shakespeare’s teaching had “unfortunately caused confusion.”
“Let me be clear, we teach Shakespeare in high schools in a variety of ways, from short excerpts to full novel readings,” he wrote.
course under fire
Widespread restrictions on instruction on gender and sexuality threaten many courses, including Advanced Placement Psychology. The University Commission, which governs the AP program, has advised Florida school districts not to take classes, arguing that prohibited content is central to this discipline and that Florida students who attend classes may not earn college credit. recommended not to implement
On Aug. 4, Diaz told superintendents he believed classes could still be taught “holistically,” and the university board retracted earlier statements.
But given conflicting guidelines, school districts are scrambling to decide whether to stick with popular classes or explore alternatives.
The Florida Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment.
There is also the issue of sex education. Previously, local governments had some discretion over how sobriety was taught, but states wanted a greater emphasis on abstinence. The state now claims the authority to approve all curriculum materials, requiring students to be taught that male and female reproductive roles are “binary, stable, and irreversible.”