ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of students, parents and advocates for the LGBTQ community is seeking to have a judge declare Florida’s HB 1557 “Parental Rights in Education” law unconstitutional.
Attorney Kell Olson with the Lambda Legal Defense Fund helped submit the lawsuit.
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“If you just scratch the surface at all, it falls apart — this façade of neutrality or a higher purpose,” Olson said. “Well, what does that do to the child? And, of course, the parents are concerned about the messages of shame and stigma it sends if their kids go to school, and they talk about their family, and they are immediately shamed or silenced.”
Olson said the 53-page lawsuit details the negative effects HB 1557 has caused the plaintiffs, which includes an Orange County student and same-sex parents with students in the district.
Supporters of the law argued students in grades K - 3 are too young to be taught about sexuality and gender identity — something the law prohibits.
According to HB 1557, the law “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels.”
Olson said he’s spoken with a teacher who expressed she wasn’t certain what can and what can’t be discussed with students.
“She’s concerned, what does she do the kids says why does he have to dads, what does she say something supportive that she’d generically say about any other family structure. It’s not clear. If a kid goes home and complains to a parent, the school is going to be concerned about liability,” Olson said.
A spokesperson for Orange County Public Schools said the district doesn’t comment on pending litigation when reached for a comment.
OCPS corrected several myths about the law last month after teachers and parents voiced confusion about how the law would be implemented.
The district explained same-sex teachers were still allowed to display photos of their families and that they may still use preferred pronouns, among other clarifications.