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Florida art teacher says she was fired after discussing sexual identities in the classroom

The Florida art teacher also revealed to her students, after they asked, that she was pansexual

Johanna Chisholm
Thursday 05 May 2022 18:07 BST
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signs controversial 'Don't Say Gay' bill into law
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A Florida art teacher believes that she was let go from her position instructing middle school kids in Florida because of a classroom discussion she opened up that broached the topic of sexual identity and orientation.

Casey Scott, a middle school teacher, told WWBH News in an interview on Tuesday that she was fired from her position teaching at Trafalgar Middle School in Cape Coral after she led an exercise with some of her students where they drew flags that illustrated their own relationship to their sexuality.

During this same discussion, the students also pressed the Florida teacher about her own sexuality.

Ms Scott told the news outlet that she replied candidly when asked, telling her students that she was married to a man and identifies as pansexual, an identity that she described to her students who didn’t at first understand what she meant as someone who likes “anyone” regardless of their gender identity.

The students’ seemed to identify with their teacher, as during the exercise where they began drawing their own sexual identity flags, she said several of them approached her to confide that they similarly identified outside of the heteronormative definitions of sexuality.

“A lot of the kids came up to me and were like, ‘oh well I’m non-binary’, and a couple kids said, ‘oh well I’m bi’. One kid said they’re gay,” Ms Scott told the Florida outlet.

After the exercise had wrapped up, Ms Scott followed a proceeding that is common for any middle school art teacher: she put her kids’ work on display on the classroom wall.

Not long after, however, she was asked by school administrators to remove the students’ flags from view.

“They said it would be in the best interest if I got rid of them,” Ms Scott said. She then swiped the students’ work from the walls, crumpled them up into balls and stashed them in the recycling bin, snapping a picture of the evidence before leaving for the day.

The crumpled up flags from Casey Scott’s art class are seen in a recycling bin after she was asked by school administrators to remove the illustrations from her wall. (WWBH News/screenshot)

Shortly after the classroom exercise, Ms Scott says she received a phone call from the school where they let her know, without specifying why, that she would not be returning to Trafalgar Middle School.

“At this time we are releasing you from your contract,” she said the school told her.

The Independent reached out to Lee County School District, which covers the middle school where Ms Scott was previously employed, for comment and they responded by saying that: “The District exercised its right to terminate the teacher’s probationary contract because she did not follow the state mandated curriculum.”

The incident for which Ms Scott believes she was fired took place just days before Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law that prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in primary grade levels or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students”.

“A discussion happened in the class and because of that now I’m fired,” said the terminated teacher.

Ms Scott’s case has been taken up online by many, with some citing it as evidence of the “Parental Rights in Education” bill working in action, while opponents of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” legislation have said the teacher’s fired status proves what they feared would become true all along: vulnerable LGBT+ voices becoming more marginalised.

“So @LeeSchools fired a middle school teacher for telling her class she’s pansexual,” wrote student activist Jack Petocz. “This is the reality of queer people in Florida. Stop policing our education and bowing to parental fringe groups. #SayGay.”

“What made this teacher think MIDDLE SCHOOL was an appropriate setting to discuss sexuality and announce her own ‘pansexualism’ that will be over most students heads?” wrote one online commenter.

Politicians in the southern state also took to cheering the school’s decision.

“Florida is serious about protecting the sexual innocence of students,” wrote Bryan Fischer, former director of issues and analysis for the American Family Association.

“Well deserved! Keep playing with our children and more of this will happen,” wrote former Florida GOP congressional candidate, Vic DeGrammont, on Twitter.

The Florida law, though signed into law on 28 March, will come into effect from 1 July.

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