Ron DeSantis’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ rules expanded so all school grades banned from discussing sexuality and gender

The law will now apply to all grades, including high schoolers

Eric Garcia
Wednesday 19 April 2023 18:45 BST
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at the Reedy Creek Administration Building Monday, April 17, 2023, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at the Reedy Creek Administration Building Monday, April 17, 2023, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla (AP)

Florida’s Board of Education approved of an expansion of Governor Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that restricts instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity to all grades, the Associated Press reported.

The original law prevented lessons about sexual orientation and gender identity until the 3rd grade. But the new rules would expand the prohibition up until 12th grade as well, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take.

The move comes as Mr DeSantis ramps up his hard-right approach on social policies ahead of an expected presidential campaign in 2024. The governor put forward the proposal last month.

Mr DeSantis signed the law, formally known as the “Parental Rights in Education Act,” which explicitly prohibits “classroom instruction” on “sexual orientation or gender identity” from kindergarten through third grade “in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

The law also drove Mr DeSantis’s ongoing feud with Disney after the company came out in opposition to the law. Earlier this week, Mr DeSantis suggested building a prison near Walt Disney World, one of the biggest attractions in the state.

Mr DeSantis has previously criticised reporters for advancing a “fraudulent” narrative and said the media is promoting a “woke gender ideology” whereas his bill is meant to protect young children from learning about LGBTQ+ sex.

He is largly expected to launch a run for president later this year and challenge his former political benefactor, former president Donald Trump. But this week, Mr Trump earned a series of endorsements from Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation.

The governor has avoided discussion about the law, instead deferring questions to Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. Mr Diaz said the law was meant to clarify any misunderstanding about the existing law and make sure teachers do not diverge from existing curricula.

In addition to the expansion of the law, Mr DeSantis also recently signed legislation that would restrict abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before most people know they are pregnant.

Alex Woodward contributed reporting

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