The Republican-led US state of Florida is expected to ban the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity in all grade levels, in an extension of a controversial law that the White House has described as “completely, utterly wrong”, reports RTE.
The move to expand restrictions on the discussion of LGBTQ-related topics, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics, set the stage for a widely anticipated presidential race by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.
Local media reported that the new rule would be voted on by the Florida Board of Education on April 19.
According to the report, it has already been approved by the Department of Education, which like the board is led by DeSantis appointees, and will not require legislative approval to go into effect.
If approved, teachers would be prohibited from “intentionally” teaching subjects related to “sexual orientation or gender identity” to students in fourth grade (grade four) through the last year of high school.
Last year’s initiative was applicable only from kindergarten to third grade.
“Make no mistake: This is a part of a disturbing and dangerous trend that we’re seeing across the country of legislations that are anti-LGBTQI+, anti-trans,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, reports RTE.
Mr.DeSantis, who won re-election in a landslide victory in 2022, has battled politicians, teachers and businesses by accusing him of trying to impose on others a progressive “woke” ideology, a central concern of his second term.
In recent months he has increasingly wooed conservative voters with controversial proposals on education and immigration as jockeys jockey for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Dr DeSantis, a rising star on the US right, is expected to face former President Donald Trump, who has already announced his candidacy, reports RTE.
The move to expand “Don’t Say Gay” restrictions has already been reversed by activists including Equality Florida.
“This has been the goal all along: sweeping censorship and book banning targeting LGBTQ people in service to his presidential ambitions. Now educators, in any grade level, and their livelihoods are being placed directly in the crosshairs for acknowledging that LGBTQ people exist,” the group tweeted, referring to Mr DeSantis, reports RTE.
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