Settlement Reached on Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Although the bill based on hate and irrational fears will remain in place, a settlement reached this week between the state and parents, students, teachers and advocacy groups who challenged Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill in court will offer some clarity on what teachers can and cannot do in the classroom.

WHAT DOES THE SETTLEMENT CHANGE?

— Books featuring LGBTQ+ characters were removed from school libraries in one county. Those books must now be returned. But depending on the content of the book, a teacher might not be able to, say, read it aloud to a class.

— Anti-bullying programs that had been ditched because they addressed anti-LGBTQ+ bullying can resume.

— Teachers in a county that once allowed them to designate their classrooms as LGBTQ+ safe spaces with a sticker on the door were required to peel them off. Now, the stickers can return.

— One valedictorian was forced to censor a commencement speech in which he mentioned he was gay. That kind of censorship would no longer be allowed.

— Lawyers advised teachers in one county that they shouldn’t talk with students about LGBTQ+ issues or, if they were in a same-sex relationship, even put family photos on their desks. Those photos can now come out of the closet.

— Some after-school gay-straight alliances canceled meetings or went underground because most are advised by teachers, some of whom worried about being punished. Those are now clearly allowed.

“What the settlement now makes clear is that students can say ‘gay’ in Florida schools, that students can say ‘trans’ in schools ... and not have to deal with censorship from the weaponized vagueness of the law,” Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida and a former state lawmaker said in an interview Tuesday.

Florida’s 2022 law was created to push back against what conservatives characterize as efforts to indoctrinate kids to a liberal ideology.

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