Federal Judge Dismisses Another Challenge to DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education Act
A federal judge threw out a lawsuit seeking to block the Parental Rights in Education act, which tightens regulations on classroom instruction related to gender and sexual orientation, marking the second rejection of a suit attempting to challenge the law by a federal judge in less than five months.
U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor issued a 21-page decision on Wednesday dismissing a revised lawsuit filed by students, parents, and teachers, who argued the law is unconstitutional. Winsor dismissed the case due to the plaintiff’s failure to “allege sufficient facts” to have legal standing. One must have been harmed by the law or person they are suing to have such standing, the right to sue at all.
Winsor explained that disagreeing with the law and emotional disappointment do not qualify as standing.
“Plaintiffs have shown a strident disagreement with the new law, and they have alleged facts to show its very existence causes them deep hurt and disappointment. But to invoke a federal court’s jurisdiction, they must allege more. Their failure to do so requires dismissal.”
Winsor has ruled this way before. In a September 29th suit, he dismissed an earlier version of the case on similar grounds but allowed for the suit to be potentially re-filed. The second attempt was no more successful at passing muster, despite claiming that its plaintiffs have suffered “concrete harms.”
The revised lawsuit claimed that the law, which mandates discussion of sexual orientation and gender to be age-appropriate and not taught below third grade, was responsible for LGBT people being “shunned.”
“They have been denied equal educational opportunities they would like to receive, in the curriculum and beyond, and they have been subjected to a discriminatory educational environment that treats LGBTQ people and issues as something to be shunned and avoided, on pain of discipline and liability. This type of overtly discriminatory treatment has no place in a free democratic society and should not be permitted to stand.”
Winsor, however, disagreed. He explained that not only is the harm not concrete, but the plaintiffs did not sufficiently show how the law would have caused that harm.
“Despite some new factual allegations, the Second Amended Complaint still does not allege facts showing any concrete future harm that is fairly traceable to the law’s enforcement and redressable by an injunction prohibiting that enforcement,”
Winsor also noted that the plaintiff failed to show how preventing the enforcement of the law would lead to a change in a Florida school district’s curriculum, further weakening claims of standing.
“They have not alleged facts to show a likelihood (rather than mere speculation) that enjoining a law regulating ‘classroom instruction’ would cause Pasco County to change a policy addressing something other than classroom instruction.”
This is the second time Winsor has dismissed a lawsuit of this kind. At this point, no suit has been robust enough even to be fought out in court.
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