- Attorneys general from fifteen states and the District of Columbia seeks to aid legal challengers against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill
- The bill, which went into effect July 1, prohibits instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in grades kindergarten through third grade
- The states claim that the law harms children and teachers
- The legal challenge is one of several that the law is currently facing
A collection of attorneys general in fifteen states and Washington D.C. filed an amicus brief in support of the ongoing Equality Florida v. Florida State Board of Education case. The states contend the law harms children and teachers in their brief, submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
State guidelines across the nation permit educators to discuss LGBTQ concerns, with educational decisions being left to the discretion of schools and instructors, the brief claims.
The legal brief isolates Florida, stating that the policy “stands alone” in its “censoring of instruction relating to LGBTQ problems and in its imposition of legal responsibility on school districts that do not suppress LGBTQ subjects.”
“The challenged Act, House Bill 1557, flatly bans classroom instruction … on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade,” the amicus reads. “For all other students, the act prohibits such instruction if not “in accordance with state standards.” The Act also subjects schools to liability for any violation by granting parents a cause of action for damages and attorney fees. All of those aspects of the law make it a radical outlier. Indeed, no other state educational law sweeps as broadly as Florida’s or targets the LGBTQ community in the same way. That undermines any genuine assertion that the act furthers educational goals.”
The fifteen states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia.
The legal challenge is just the latest that the bill faces. Last week, a conglomeration of parents, students, and an organization filed lawsuits against four Florida school districts — Palm Beach, Duval, Orange, and Indian River — over the Parental Rights in Education bill.
The lawsuits contend that the bill violates the first amendment rights, due process, and equal-protection rights of students across the state, as first reported by News Service of Florida. Plaintiffs also claim that the law improperly suspends educational discussion of gender theory and sexual orientation.
“Florida enacted HB 1557 to silence and erase lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning young people and families,” the lawsuit states. “The law is profoundly vague and requires schools to ban undefined broad categories of speech, based on undefined standards such as ‘appropriateness.”