DeSantis sued by LGBTQ students over bill that bans gender and sexuality lessons

DCNFLaurel Duggan, DCNF

A group of students, parents, teachers and activists are suing Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over a new law banning classroom instruction on sexuality and gender identity for young children.

The lawsuit alleges the Parental Rights In Education law, which bans lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, violates the First Amendment, claiming phrases like “gender identity” and “age-appropriate” are too vague and will have a chilling effect on the behavior and speech of students, teachers and parents. It also claims the law breaches the Fourteenth Amendment and Title IX regulations by discriminating against gay and transgender people.

LGBT activist organizations Equality Florida and Family Equality are named as plaintiffs in the case, along with a lesbian rabbi and her domestic partner, the mother of a transgender fifth-grader, a middle school teacher who incorporates “issues related to the LGBTQ community” in her classroom instruction and several other interested parties.

The lawsuit also claims Florida’s law “erases other LGBTQ members of the school community and parents” and “is motivated by animus against LGBTQ students, families, and teachers of Florida, and those who would accept and support them in school.”

The law in question, which DeSantis signed Monday, bans classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation from kindergarten through third grade, requires those lessons to be age-appropriate in fourth grade and higher and requires parental consent for health care services offered in schools.

“The bill I signed today protects Florida parents like January Littlejohn,” DeSantis said Monday. “School officials manipulated her daughter to ‘transition,’ calling her a male name and pronouns without January’s knowledge or consent. This is wrong and today’s legislation will ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

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