There are actual studies that show that Florida’s recently-passed “Don’t Say Gay” bill will hurt our children. They will be less educated and less empathetic — while school funding goes to enforcing laws and tackling lawsuits instead of to the kids. At the same time, queer kids in the classroom face challenges and barriers while dealing with more depression and anxiety.
On top of all that, though, schools are being forced to implement a huge number of new rules and policies to protect against censure and lawsuits. And many of these policies are ridiculous. The newest on on our radar? A Florida school district is now requiring anyone who uses a nickname that’s different than their legal to produce a signed permission slip from their parents.
Great — meaningless paperwork for parents, teachers, and staff that could prevent a kid from being called their preferred name at school.
The Orange County Public School District (OCPS), which consists of over 200 schools and teaches over 200,000 kids, will now require that students are called by their full, legal name or their last name unless they provide a permission slip approving a nickname. Whether parents want a simple nickname approved on want their children called by a name of another gender, they must fill out a form called the “Parental Authorization for Deviation from Student’s Legal Name Form.”
Why? Because mentioning sexual orientation or gender identity violates the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and calling a child by a different name could bring up issues of gender identity. The bill also allows any parent to sue the school over these violations, making it wise for school to be as careful as possible — and apparently that means if your son Joseph wants to be called Joe, you will need to sign your name.
How will these new rules affect trans kids going to school in the district?
According to a memo from the District’s Office of Legal Services, “[A] parent may fill out the form allowing the usage of a transgender name. As an example, if the student’s legal name is Robert, but the student identifies as a transgender girl and uses the name Roberta, the parent may authorize a teacher or other personnel to call the student Roberta. However, while the teacher and other personnel would utilize the name Roberta when requested by the parent, under the recently adopted House Bill 1069, the teacher or other personnel may elect not to utilize the pronoun ‘she/her’ when referring to Roberta.”
So, it could be worse but… this is pretty bad.
At the same time that this is going on, teachers are required to get all the media in their classrooms approved, just so kids won’t bee exposed to any “harmful” ideas — you know, like that other sexualities exist. And sex ed will be considerably limited, putting kids at risk for teen pregnancies and STIs.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been waging war again education, the LGBTQ+ populations, books, and even Disney. And now he’s running for President. Here’s to hoping his school policies have zero chance of reaching a federal level.