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The Outrageous School Scandal That Inspired FL Republicans to Create the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill

Florida Republicans drafted the Parents Rights in Education bill in response to local parents’ allegations, detailed in a lawsuit, that a public school helped their child transition to a different gender behind their backs.

SO WHAT

Liberals who falsely claim Florida is trying to ban educators from saying “gay” are failing to grapple with what’s really at stake.

WHAT HAPPENED

In November of last year, January and Jeffrey Littlejohn filed a federal lawsuit against the Leon County School Board, accusing Deerlake Middle School of encouraging their daughter to undergo a gender transition.

  • According to the complaint, the girl, referred to as “A.G.” in the lawsuit, expressed confusion about her gender identity to her parents in the spring of 2020.
  • Against the family’s wishes and directions to Deerlake staff, the school “unleashed a flurry of activity aimed at secretly affirming” the student’s “belief that she was nonbinary,” including instructing teachers to refer to the girl by “they/them” pronouns, the complaint alleged.
  • “The Student Support Plan indicated A.G.’s parents were not aware and supportive of A.G.’s ‘gender transition,’ so that staff needed to ‘engage in privacy’ when speaking with them. In other words, LCS staff were directed to conceal from Mr. and Mrs. Littlejohn that their daughter was claiming to be ‘nonbinary,'” the lawsuit reads.

The Littlejohns also claimed that staff were directed to avoid using A.G.’s preferred name or gender specific pronouns when talking to them.

HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Florida lawmakers say LGBT student “support guides,” such as the one used in Leon County and referenced in the Littlejohns’ lawsuit, were the initial impetus behind the Parental Rights in Education bill, Politico reported Tuesday.

  • The guide in Leon County says teachers should not “out” a student to their parents if they believe they are LGBT, cautioning that it may “literally make them homeless.”
  • In Marin County, teachers are told “it is never appropriate to divulge the sexual orientation of a student to a parent” except in very rare cases involving “the imminent fear of physical harm.”
  • State Rep. Chris Latvala, a St. Petersburg Republican who co-sponsored the Parental Rights in Education bill, told Politico he learned about the Littlejohns’ lawsuit at the end of the 2021 legislative session, around the same time he’d become aware of the Marin County guide.

The lawsuit was frequently cited by GOP lawmakers as they debated the bill, which requires schools to notify parents in the event of changes to services or monitoring related to their child’s “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.”

WHERE ARE WE?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch supporter of the legislation, signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law on Monday.

Opponents, who have dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, say the law is discriminatory and overly broad.

  • Critics have singled out the law’s provision barring classroom lessons on gender identity or sexual orientation for kindergarteners through third graders, claiming it will forestall legitimate instruction.
  • Last week, employees of the Walt Disney Company staged a walk-out in protest of the business’ failure to condemn the Parental Rights and Education bill.
  • The company issued a statement Monday vowing to help repeal the law.

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