In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has conscripted public school educators to push his anti-LGBTQ agenda. The Parental Rights in Education Law he signed in March prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through 3rd grade.
The law, branded “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, makes it illegal to instruct students on these topics “in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.” It allows parents to decline any mental, emotional and physical health services offered to their kids and requires schools to notify them of a child’s use of those services unless disclosure could “subject the student to abuse, abandonment or neglect.”
DeSantis said the new law was designed to ensure students “get an education, not an indoctrination,” but in fact it stigmatizes being gay or transgender. It also will limit mental health services provided to children, including those who are not part of the LGBTQ community.
The law increases the potential for violence and bullying of LGBTQ students both in and outside schools. It also puts pressure on educators to indoctrinate young people in anti-LGBTQ ideology.
Building relationships with students is a vital part of the work of public school educators. Educators know how to strike a balance so that they are responsive to students’ emotional needs and able to discuss sensitive subjects without becoming ideological crusaders. They should be given the latitude to create a comfortable and safe learning environment for all students without fearing that honest discussion will jeopardize their jobs and lead to personal attacks.