- Florida’s Board of Education unanimously passed a pair of new rules to help school districts comply with state laws on sexual and racial curriculum and parental notifications
- One rule requires parents to be notified of certain situations involving school access policies based on gender identity pertaining to bathroom, locker room or dressing rooms
- A second rule provides clarification that teachers who violate state laws by teaching inappropriate sexual curriculum to 3rd grade students or below could be stripped of their license
Florida’s new Parental Bill of Rights got some teeth thanks to a pair of new rules unanimously approved by the State Board of Education on Wednesday. One rule requires county school boards and charter schools to notify parents about administrative policies involving access to bathrooms, locker rooms or other areas that were previously restricted by gender. The second rule provides guidance for school district administrators to strip teachers of their licenses if they violate either of a pair of new laws pertaining to teaching inappropriate sexual or racial curriculum.
“The rules stem from the new Parental Rights in Education law passed in March of this year, and the the 2021 Parents Bill of Rights, passed in 2021, that entitles families to have more information about their student’s education and welfare.
“The parents bill of rights is about informing parents about the policies and procedures that are happening on school grounds,” said Jacob Oliva, Senior Chancellor at the Florida Department of Education. “What this rule does is make sure that if a school implements a policy or procedure in regard to or with specific designations like locker rooms, bathrooms and dressing rooms, that parents have a right to know, and that we’re transparent about the procedures that are happening within our schools.”
Over 40 members of the public requested time to speak at the meeting ahead of the vote on the rules, including LGBT advocates who opposed the rule, and parental rights advocates like Jessica Tillman, chairwoman of the Seminole County chapter of the conservative group Moms For Liberty, who supported the rule.
“I appreciate this rule. I am thankful that you are open to this conversation and forcing our districts to be transparent,” said Tillman. “We are 100 percent asking our districts for transparency in education. That includes what is going on in locker rooms and bathrooms.”
The rule mandates that districts alert parents to policies that affect which bathrooms and locker rooms “are not separated by biological sex at birth.” But LGBT advocates argued that the rule could harm such students.
“This proposed rule is designed to intimidate school districts from following federal guidance,” said Nikole Parker, director of transgender equality with the LGBTQ-advocacy group Equality Florida, “making schools less safe and adding fuel to a politically motivated crusade against LGBTQ youth and their families.”
But state officials pushed back on the claim that LGBT students might be harmed.
“It’s parental notification,” said Tom Grady, chairman of the State Board of Education. “It’s not mandating what a particular bathroom looks like or doesn’t look like or who can use it. It’s about parental notification.”
The second rule, also approved Wednesday, allows school administrators to enforce the new legal restrictions on teaching inappropriate sexual curriculum and specific race-related issues. The rule provides a pathway for disciplining teachers who violate the new laws. The rule includes new guidance in the state code of conduct clarifying that teachers could have their educators’ licenses suspended or revoked if they provide inappropriate instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity to students in kindergarten through third grade.