DeSantis to expand ‘Don’t talk gay’ law to all grades – KGET 17

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – The administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is moving to ban classroom teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in all grades, expanding a controversial law that critics call “Don’t Say Gay” as the Republican governor continues to focus on cultural issues ahead of his expected presidential candidacy.

The proposal, which would not require legislative approval, is scheduled for a vote next month before the state Board of Education and has been brought forward by the state Department of Education, both of which are headed by governors.

The rule change would ban classes on sexual orientation and gender identity from grades 4 through 12, unless required by existing state standards or as part of a reproductive health class that students can choose not to take. The original bill that DeSantis championed last spring banned those classes in kindergarten through third grade. The change was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

DeSantis has leaned heavily on cultural divides on his path to an expected White House bid, with the Republican aggressively pursuing a conservative agenda that targets what he calls the stuffing of inappropriate subjects into schools.

Spokesmen for the governor’s office and the education department did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.

Last year’s Parental Rights in Education Act sparked widespread national backlash, with critics saying it marginalizes LGBTQ people and their presence in society.

DeSantis and other Republicans have repeatedly said the measure is reasonable and that parents, not teachers, should be bringing up the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity with their children.

Critics of the bill say its language — “classroom instruction,” “age appropriate” and “developmentally appropriate” — is too broad and open to interpretation. Consequently, teachers may choose to avoid the subjects altogether for fear of a lawsuit, they say.

The law also sparked a feud between the state and Disney, one of the state’s largest employers and political donors, after the entertainment giant publicly opposed the law and said it was pausing political donations in the state.

At the governor’s request, the Republican-dominated Legislature voted to dissolve the self-governing district controlled by Walt Disney World over its Florida properties, ultimately giving DeSantis control of the board. The move was widely seen as punishment for the company defying the law. The board oversees utilities at Disney’s theme parks and was instrumental in the company’s decision to build near Orlando in the 1960s.

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