Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” legislation was expanded on Wednesday by the Florida Board of Education, banning classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades unless required by state education standards. Prior to the expansion, the legislation banned lessons from kindergarten through third grade, although teachers in higher grades felt concerned that they could be punished for classroom discussions. The expansion comes amid a flood of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in state houses across the country.
AP News reports the expansion “came at the request of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R–FL.) as he gears up for an expected presidential run.”
Jack Petocz, an 18-year-old student organizer from Florida, who has rallied against “Don’t Say Gay,” called the development “nothing short of a tragedy. In the initial fight against the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, activists were told that we were exaggerating, that this only applied to young children. We saw past their deception. We knew this would happen,” Petocz said. “Students across Florida deserve to learn about the invaluable contributions queer people have made to society. They won’t erase us. They will never win.”
The expansion comes along with other restrictions in Florida, including book bans and a six-week abortion ban. Students in Florida are fighting back, including a planned walkout of high school and college students called Walkout 2 Learn.
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