10 Florida School Districts Under Scrutiny for Racial and LGBTQ Policies

Florida’s State Board of Education is meeting next week to scrutinize whether or not ten school districts, including Miami-Dade and Broward counties, are carrying out the state’s parental rights law, which has recently become embroiled in controversy from local school board meetings and national political rhetoric.

The Florida Department of Education put superintendents on notice last month, sending letters to districts that described which of their policies and procedures “may not comport with Florida law.”

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The Parental Rights in Education Act has been dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, despite never mentioning the word. The Act bans classroom instruction on sex and gender for third grade and under and mandates  that all education on the topic in later grades be “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”

However, schools have attempted to circumvent these policies in various ways. Many policies the state flagged as requiring investigation create protections for students to confide personal information about their sexual orientation and gender identities with school staff without staff being required to inform parents. Theoretically, this allows school officials and students to discuss such topics without restriction and without parental knowledge or consent, potentially violating the Act.

The state has also questioned a “racial equity policy” at the Indian River County School District. The district’s policy aims to attack “the institutional racism that results in predictably lower academic achievements for students of color than for their white peers.” In Miami-Dade, the state has focused on policies that abolish traditional standards of sex division in sports and locker rooms. Miami- Dade policies also pertain to pronouns students want to use, information that can also be kept from parents.

In the Nov. 18 letters, Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva flagged a range of policies like these and requested a status update by Friday. Requests were sent to Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Alachua, Brevard, Duval, Indian River, Leon, Palm Beach, and the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind.

The State Board of Education will meet to review and investigate these issues on Wednesday.

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