DeSantis Celebrates Settlement Over ‘Parental Rights’ Law He Championed

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking a victory lap after a settlement was reached between plaintiffs and state education officials regarding a “parental rights” law that he touted.

Civil rights attorneys challenged what they dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which is officially called the Parental Rights in Education Act, Newsweek reported.

The “bill was signed into law by DeSantis in March 2022. It initially banned instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for public school students in kindergarten through the third grade before it was expanded to all grades last year,” the outlet reported.

Critics of the law contended that it would pose harm to LGBTQ+ students within school environments. Shortly after DeSantis signed the measure, a coalition of parents, students, and teachers from across Florida, along with nonprofit organizations Equality Florida and Family Equality, filed a lawsuit challenging the measure.

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On Monday, a settlement was announced by the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, Roberta Kaplan, with both sides claiming victory.

Newsweek added: “Under the terms of the settlement, students and teachers will be able to freely discuss sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida classrooms as long as the topics are not part of instruction, according to a statement sent to Newsweek via email by Kaplan’s office. The terms state that the Florida Board of Education will send instructions to school districts that the law doesn’t ban discussing the LGBTQ+ community, prevent anti-bullying rules or bar Gay-Straight Alliance groups. The settlement also spells out that the law is neutral—meaning what applies to LGBTQ+ people also applies to heterosexual people—and that it doesn’t apply to library books not being used in the classroom.”

But, according to a press release from the former 2024 GOP presidential contender’s office, the lawsuit has been dropped, and the settlement:

  • “Prohibits classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in K–3 classrooms, and after 3rd grade, these conversations need to be age-appropriate.
  • “Ensures that at the beginning of every school year, parents will be notified about healthcare services offered at the school, with the right to decline any service offered.
  • “Ensures that whenever a questionnaire or health screening is given to K–3 students, parents receive it first and provide permission for the school to administer the questionnaire or health screening to their child.”

“We fought hard to ensure this law couldn’t be maligned in court, as it was in the public arena by the media and large corporate actors,” said General Counsel Ryan Newman. “We are victorious, and Florida’s classrooms will remain a safe place under the Parental Rights in Education Act.”

The release also noted that the settlement is “a major win against the activists who sought to stop Florida’s efforts to keep radical gender and sexual ideology out of the classrooms of public-school children in kindergarten through third grade.”

DeSantis has always held up the legislation as protecting young children from age-inappropriate sexual content.

“In Florida, we not only know that parents have a right to be involved, we insist that parents have a right to be involved,” DeSantis said at a press conference at the Classical Preparatory School in Spring Hill, Florida, after signing the bill in March 2022.

The popular governor also hit back at Hollywood stars after they criticized the legislation.

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“If the people who held up degenerates like Harvey Weinstein as exemplars and as heroes and as all that, if those are the types of people that are opposing us on parents’ rights, I wear that like a badge of honor.”

“They don’t want to admit that they support a lot of the things that we’re providing protections against,” he said.

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