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Battle intensifies over Florida’s new law on gender lessons, parent rights

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Gov. Ron DeSantis shows an image from the children’s book Call Me Max by transgender author Kyle Lukoff moments before signing the Parental Rights in Education bill during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills. At left is an image of The Genderbread Person, a teaching tool used for breaking the concept of gender.
Gov. Ron DeSantis shows an image from the children’s book Call Me Max by transgender author Kyle Lukoff moments before signing the Parental Rights in Education bill during a news conference on Monday, March 28, 2022, at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills. At left is an image of The Genderbread Person, a teaching tool used for breaking the concept of gender. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Mar. 29

The big story: It’s no big surprise that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1557 into law on Monday, shortly after receiving it from the Legislature.

What remained most notable about the measure, which restricts lessons about gender identity and also expands parents’ control over health services at schools, is how divided the state and nation became over it.

DeSantis, surrounded by Republican lawmakers and supporters, talked at length about what he considered inappropriate activities going on in schools, and the need to stand by parents. Bill critics, who emerged in force after the signing, blasted the law as hateful and detrimental to the LGBTQ community.

Neither side appeared inclined to give an inch in the narrative, which looms large over the approaching 2022 elections.

Want to know more about the debate? Read the story here. For added details about the law, check out this explainer.

After DeSantis signed the bill, writing in bold blue letters “Keep FL Free!” next to his name, the Walt Disney Corp. issued a statement calling for its quick demise. • The U.S. Education Department said it would monitor Florida for any violations of federal civil rights laws related to the new state action, the Miami Herald reports. Here’s education secretary Miguel Cardona’s statement. • What are other people saying? Florida Phoenix compiled social media reaction from backers and opponents.

Hot topics

Teacher pay: Brevard County school district officials are talking about asking voters to increase their property taxes in support of raises, Florida Today reports.

School board elections: A four-term St. Johns County School Board member said he will not seek reelection, the St. Augustine Record reports.

Superintendent turnover: Embattled Volusia County superintendent Scott Fritz announced he will not seek to have his contract renewed, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. The School Board has delayed discussing his contract for several weeks.

Achievement gap: Florida Department of Education data indicates that Black students statewide are reading at much lower levels than white students, WJXT reports.

School news

A second teen has died after a car crashed into students at a Palm Beach County bus stop. Two other students who were injured are expected to survive, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Where’s the bus? Marion County schools launched a new phone application to give parents live information about bus locations, WKMG reports.

A Miami-Dade County mom is demanding accountability from a charter school where her son was body slammed by an older student. School officials said they are looking into the incident, WSVN reports.

From the court docket ... Opponents of a Florida law calling for intellectual freedom surveys at state colleges and universities have asked a judge to stop the process, the News Service of Florida reports.

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