DeSantis Admin Proposes To Expand Florida's Parental Rights in Education Law

The rule prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity up to 12th grade

Disney employee protests the Parental Rights in Education law / Getty Images
March 23, 2023

The Florida Board of Education is set to vote next month on a proposal that would expand Gov. Ron DeSantis's (R.) Parental Rights in Education law.

The law, originally passed last spring and dubbed by critics the "Don't Say Gay" act, increases classroom transparency and prohibits lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. The proposed rule would expand that prohibition to 4th- through 12th-grade classrooms, "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 expansion is part of the DeSantis administration's efforts to combat woke curricula in Florida's public schools. Last month, the College Board revised its high school Advanced Placement course in African-American studies after DeSantis rejected the draft curriculum for its woke and inaccurate content. In June 2021, DeSantis signed the Fairness in Women's Sports Act, which barred biological males who identify as women from competing in women's sports.

At a speech earlier this month in Simi Valley, Calif., DeSantis declared that schools "should not be teaching a second-grader that they can choose their gender," to which the crowd responded with a standing ovation.

"In Florida we say very clearly we will never ever surrender to the woke mob," DeSantis said. "Our state is where woke goes to die."

The Florida Department of Education is scheduled to vote on the expansion on April 19. Republicans in the state Senate introduced a similar rule, which bars classroom talks on gender identity from pre-kindergarten to ninth grade.

"Parents have the right and God-given responsibility to guide their children's upbringing," state senator Clay Yarborough (R.), a sponsor of the bill, said during a committee hearing Monday. "They should not have to worry their students are receiving classroom instruction on topics and materials parents feel are not age-appropriate."

Democratic state senator Shevrin Jones argued against the new rule, saying it was about the "banning of books, muzzling of teachers, and forcing students back into the closet."