Challenges to Florida’s ‘parental rights’ law keep falling short

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
People attend a rally on the steps of city hall to protest the controversial 'parental rights in education' law in March in St. Petersburg. Lawsuits challenging the measure's constitutionality have not succeeded so far.
People attend a rally on the steps of city hall to protest the controversial 'parental rights in education' law in March in St. Petersburg. Lawsuits challenging the measure's constitutionality have not succeeded so far. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Feb. 17, 2023|Updated Feb. 17, 2023

The big story: The legal fight against Florida’s “parental rights in education” law lost momentum Wednesday.

A federal judge ruled that the plaintiffs challenging the law and its provisions relating to the instruction of gender identity and sexual orientation had no standing to bring the case.

The fact that they disagree with the law and their suggestion that its existence causes hurt is not enough, Judge Allen Winsor found.

A similar case is pending in another district, where the plaintiffs were given a chance to demonstrate they have standing after that judge dismissed the complaint. Read more from the News Service of Florida.

Meanwhile, Indiana lawmakers had their first discussion about enacting a similar bill in their state, Chalkbeat Indiana reports.

Hot topics

School books: Four of Flagler County’s nearly 12,700 students have had their families opt out of full school library access, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • The Florida Citizens Alliance called on the Florida Department of Education to reject 24 proposed social studies textbooks, saying critical race theory and social-emotional learning permeated them, Epoch Times reports. The group also stated the books were slanted and contained “significant errors.” • The Duval County school district has approved challenged books about Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron and allowed them back on school shelves, Florida Phoenix reports.

AP classes: Florida parents and students have criticized the governor’s idea of removing AP courses from their schools, the Washington Post reports. • Two teachers who have piloted the AP African American studies course that has come under fire from Gov. Ron DeSantis say the course has been valuable in exposing students to new aspects of Black history and culture, Education Week reports. • The College Board has offered shifting explanations for its changes to the course, which remain under fire from people who say the group capitulated to Florida’s criticisms, Popular Information reports.

High school sports: More than 150 people had something to say about the FHSAA proposal to require female student athletes to report about their periods to their high schools. Most were strongly opposed, the Palm Beach Post reports. • A bill aiming to give the governor more control over the FHSAA board also would allow schools to make “opening remarks” before sporting events and permit private and homeschool school students to play on public school athletic teams.

Student transportation: Escambia County students will be able to get public transit passes that allows them to ride buses free during the school year, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Classroom technology: A Florida House committee heard a presentation calling for a reduction in classroom technology to avoid students’ addiction, which can lead to poor behavior and mental health concerns, Florida Politics reports. • The Citrus County school district had to go without internet service as its fiber line was cut, the Citrus County Chronicle reports.

Attendance zones: Some families affected by the Palm Beach County school district’s new high school rezoning say they wish the process had been more equitable, WPTV reports.

Employee pay: Escambia County school support personnel reached a contract deal that includes raises and bonuses, the Pensacola News-Journal reports. They split away from bargaining with teachers in the fall as talks faltered.

In higher education

Florida has repealed its name-image-likeness law governing college athletes. Agents say it’s a game changer for athletes looking for sponsorships.

Saint Leo University is closing some satellite campuses, eliminating staff positions and cutting programs and sports teams. Officials said the move will allow the school to expand in other areas of high demand.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has pushed to remove “trendy ideology” from higher education. He’s taking from a national playbook from conservative think tanks, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • DeSantis defended the state’s move away from supporting diversity, equity and inclusion, saying two years ago he didn’t know exactly what the concept entailed, Florida Politics reports.

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