Wednesday, July 27, 2022

We Will Not Be Silenced

From the Miami Herald:

Parents, students and a non-profit organization have filed a federal lawsuit against four Florida school districts, challenging the constitutionality of a new state law that restricts instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in classrooms.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Orlando, seeks to block the school boards in Orange, Indian River, Duval and Palm Beach counties from carrying out the law (HB 1557), which passed during this year’s legislative session after fierce debate.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued in the 53-page complaint that the law violates First Amendment, due-process and equal-protection rights and improperly chills discussion of issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation.

“Florida enacted HB 1557 to silence and erase lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning young people and families,” the lawsuit said. “The law is profoundly vague and requires schools to ban undefined broad categories of speech, based on undefined standards such as ‘appropriateness.’”

The law, which has drawn nationwide attention, prevents instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade and requires that such instruction be “age-appropriate … in accordance with state academic standards” in older grades.

Republican lawmakers titled the measure the “Parental Rights in Education” bill. Opponents labeled it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Opponents also have challenged the constitutionality of the measure in a federal lawsuit filed in Tallahassee against Gov. Ron DeSantis, the State Board of Education, the Florida Department of Education, Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. and several school boards. That case is pending.

The case filed Monday, however, only names as defendants the four school boards, with plaintiffs alleging that the law has caused changes in the way districts handle issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

This is just one of many examples where Republicans who carry on about smaller government and local control have no qualms about grabbing the reins and running school districts from Tallahassee.

Not for nothing, but my observation over the last forty years or so of being involved in education is that the parents who actually are involved in their children’s education are in favor of trusting the teachers and the school to do what’s best for them.  It’s the ones who never show up at the parental involvement events who complain the most and contribute the least.

But the most important thing to remember is that lesson taught by such lights as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nelson Mandela: the more you try to silence the voices, the louder and more effective they will become.

Speak!

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