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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News: Fla. ‘Don’t Say Gay’ ban now applies to K-12 public schools


Florida’s Board of Education voted Wednesday to implement a rule that expands the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law to now prohibit instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity through 12th grade in the state’s public schools.

The rule change, which does not require legislative approval, will ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from fourth to 12th grade unless required by state standards or as part of a reproductive health course that parents can opt students out of.

Today’s vote was put forth by the Florida Department of Education, both of which are controlled by appointees of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has publicly stated his opposition to LGBTQ equality and civil rights. The rule goes into effect in 34 days, according to the Florida Department of Education.

LGBTQ advocacy groups and student activist leaders across the state spoke out, including Jack Petocz, a senior at Flagler-Palm Coast High School who had organized and led the statewide protests last spring in opposition to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Petocz tweeted defiantly: “This was NEVER about protecting your children. It’s all an elaborate plan to ERASE people like me from existence. You won’t fucking win.” 

Petocz then noted:

Petocz was also trolled on his Twitter account by a far-right participant of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol insurrection who homophobically attacked him:

Joe Saunders, senior political director for the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, Equality Florida, released the following statement:

“Let’s put it plainly: this is part of the governor’s assault on freedom. Free states do not ban books. Free states do not censor entire communities out of the classroom. Free states do not wage war on LGBTQ+ people to score cheap political points for a man desperate to be president. This policy will escalate the government censorship that is sweeping our state, exacerbate our educator exodus, drive hardworking families from Florida, and further stigmatize and isolate a population of young people who need our support now more than ever. Shame on the DeSantis administration for putting a target on the backs of LGBTQ+ Floridians.”

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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News