Florida teachers afraid of lawsuits in “Don’t Say Gay” era

Now that Parental Rights in Education is law, school principals and administrators will have to determine how the vague legislation works in the real world.

The new law could lead to various interpretations, depending on where you are in the state, and who is telling you what they think the law means. 

Veteran Florida elementary school teacher Cory Bernaert says: “The bill is so broad, and it leaves so much open for discretion. You know, what is the line between discussion and instruction?”

He says that as educators, their role is to encourage and facilitate discussion. At his school, family is a huge focus, and teachers are encouraged to display photos of their own families.

“We are going to have students that have two moms, that have two dads… and guess what? They talk to their friends about their home life at recess, at PE, when they’re at lunch.

“Those kids are going to have questions… then they’re gonna go to their teachers and say, ‘Tim told me that he’s got two dads, and I don’t really understand how he’s got two dads.’

“They’re going to go to their teachers about that, because that’s what kids do. We build relationships with our kids, and they trust us to come ask us questions.”

Fear is likely to be a real factor in how teachers approach the new law, making them literally afraid to “say gay” for fear of lawsuits.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association union, said the law is politically motivated because elementary schools, especially in kindergarten through third grade, do not teach about these subjects and have state curriculum standards guiding classroom lessons.