- Alachua County
- Andrew Warren
- Brevard County
- Don't Say Gay
- Duval County
- Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind
- HB 1557
- Hillsborough County
- Indian River
- Jacob Oliva
- Joe Harding
- Jose Dotres
- Leon County
- miami dade county
- Palm Beach County
- parental rights in education
- Ron DeSantis
- Ryan Newman
- State Board of Education
- Stop W.O.K.E Act
- Stop WOKE Act
Nine public school districts and a specialized K-12 school in St. Augustine are under review by Florida’s Board of Education over their enforcement of the state’s law restricting classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual preference.
Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva informed each district’s Superintendent on Nov. 18 that their policies were under review. He requested updates by Friday.
Florida Politics reached out to Education Commissioner Manny Díaz Jr. for comment but received none by press time.
The Parental Rights in Education law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in March, prohibits public school lessons and discussions of sex and gender identity in all kindergarten through third grade classrooms.
For higher grade levels, the measure bars such lessons when they are not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate,” without further explanation. It also blocks school districts from adopting procedures that allow school staff to keep information about a student’s mental, emotional or well-being and changes in related services or monitoring from their parents.
Critics labeled the law “Don’t Say Gay” and warned it would have a chilling effect on teachers by preventing them from supporting or recognizing LGBTQ youths and parents. The law also includes provisions by which parents can seek legal damages against school districts they believe violated its mandates.
Oliva flagged the school districts of Alachua, Brevard, Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Indian River, Leon, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties for potential violations. Every one of those districts came under fire earlier this year for defying the Governor’s executive order outlawing mask mandates in schools.
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind was also named in an Oliva communiqué.
District and school policies that the state targeted for scrutiny include “best practices” some have employed to refer to students by their preferred gender pronouns, allow them to use locker rooms and restrooms consistent with their gender identity, and to not disclose the sexual orientation or gender identity without their permission.
In a two-page letter to Miami-Dade Superintendent Jose Dotres, Oliva outlined five policies “guidance” policies the district has to “support transgender and gender expansive students,” including allowing them to participate in interscholastic sports “in accordance with their gender identity.”
“After initial review of the policies and procedures submitted by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, it appears that some of these policies or procedures may have not yet been updated to comply with revised Florida law and State Board of Education rule (sic),” Oliva wrote.
“This list is not exhaustive, and your district should strive to review all its policies and procedures for other provisions that may not comport with Florida law.”
Oliva highlighted similar policies in Broward, including allowing transgender students to “room with peers that match their gender identity” while on overnight field trips, and in Hillsborough, where teachers have access to a “support guide for staff” on “creating a safe and supportive environment” for LGBTQ youth.
Several school districts, including Hillsborough and Indian River, have also been asked about their “racial equity” policies that appear to violate another relatively new measure prohibiting teachers from discussing race, color, sex or national origin if the lesson causes guilt or suggests some are inherently racist, sexist or oppressive because of those characteristics.
The law, dubbed the “Stop WOKE Act” by DeSantis — short for “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees” — went into effect July 1.
As Florida Politics reported, when asked last week what “woke” means during a trial over DeSantis’ suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, the Governor’s General Counsel, Ryan Newman, defined it as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”
Also of note: Republican state Rep. Joe Harding, the House sponsor of the Parental Rights in Education law, was federally indicted Wednesday on six felony counts including money laundering and wire fraud of pandemic relief funds. He resigned from office the next day.