New Florida rule on gender, sex lessons spurs LGBTQ+ critics

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Hillsborough High School students protested state restrictions on teaching about gender identity to elementary students in March 2022, raising concerns the law would affect teens, too. This week the State Board of Education extended the limits into high schools.
Hillsborough High School students protested state restrictions on teaching about gender identity to elementary students in March 2022, raising concerns the law would affect teens, too. This week the State Board of Education extended the limits into high schools. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]
Published April 20

The big story: In 2022, Florida lawmakers placed restrictions on teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade.

Many high school students raised concerns at the time that the measure also called for unspecified age-appropriate limits for upper grades too. They worried what that might lead to.

A year later, the state is putting some definition behind the language. Lawmakers are moving to expand the restrictions to the fifth through eighth grades, while the State Board of Education added rules for teaching those topics in high schools.

Education commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said the goal is to provide clarity for teachers. Critics argued the state is sowing the seeds for more confusion. Read more here.

Some Leon County LGBTQ+ teachers and students said they will continue to fight the rules and bills, WTXL reports. More reaction from South Florida via WPLG.

In a related move, the Florida House approved a measure restricting transgender use of restrooms, including in schools, Florida Politics reports.

More Tallahassee action

Diversity, equity and inclusion: A bill to rewrite higher education governance in Florida no longer aims to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion programs as Gov. Ron DeSantis wanted.

Graduation requirements: Facing an anticipated declines in high school graduation rates, Florida school district leaders asked state lawmakers to delay higher testing requirements set to take effect this year, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

School boards: The Senate continued to advance a bill that would loosen residency requirements for school board candidates, Florida Politics reports. The House has passed an identical measure.

Start times: Florida teens would get extra time to sleep under a measure moving through the Legislature to require later middle and high school start times, Fresh Take Florida reports. • As school district officials prepare their fall bell schedules, they’ve heard parent complaints about shifting times and raised questions about whether the bill would help.

Year-round education: Lawmakers are pushing for a year-round schooling pilot program in select counties to see if the approach would yield better academic results, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

Vouchers: Participation in Florida’s tax credit scholarship and voucher programs continues to surge, reimaginED reports.

Today in Tallahassee ... The full House is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. • The Senate Appropriations Committee is set to consider SB 1328 on charter school capital outlay funding when it meets at 9:30 a.m. • The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee is scheduled to consider SB 1112 on school start times when it meets at 9:30 a.m.

Other school news

The Hillsborough County School Board narrowly voted to close Just Elementary School. Read each member’s rationale behind their position.

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The Pasco County School Board blessed a proposed cell tower on a K-8 campus despite strong community opposition. Members said they wanted assurances the school could communicate with law enforcement during emergencies.

Sarasota County’s teacher union conducted a climate survey of members amid the district’s changing political environment. Teachers said they fear retribution if they speak out about their concerns, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Two Flagler County School Board members attempted to censure the board chairperson. They failed, Flagler Live reports.

The Escambia County school district has struggled to complete a deal to place a long struggling middle school under charter control. State officials expressed exasperation with the district and pressured officials to get the job done, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

The Duval County school district is investigating reports of alleged teacher inappropriate behavior. State officials have raised questions whether the district adequately reported the incidents, WTLV reports.

From the police blotter ... A Bay County teen was arrested on accusations of bringing a gun to school and making threats against another student, the Panama City News-Herald reports. • An Indian River County teen was arrested on allegations of having a gun in a backpack at school, TC Palm reports.

From the court docket ... An administrative law judge said a Broward County teacher who was fired after facing sex abuse charges should get his job back after being cleared, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

In higher ed

New College trustees received a letter from interim president Richard Corcoran asking them to defer or deny pending tenure applications. The faculty union president suggested the memo could violate the school’s collective bargaining agreement.

The University of Florida is defending its removal of campus crime data from its website. Officials said they were working to ensure the information was accurate, Fresh Take Florida reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Who even knew there was such a thing as a Ukulele Orchestra, much less that they could play such intricate tunes?

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