A federal lawsuit filed on March 31 against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials in the state alleges that newly enacted legislation discriminates against gay and transgender students.
Equality Florida, students, and parents say the Parental Rights in Education Act treats gay and transgender students, and students with certain parents, unequally.
The ban on classroom discussion about “sexual orientation and gender identity” in kindergarten through third grade is too vague and runs afoul of constitutional protections, including the free speech protections in the First Amendment, plaintiffs assert in the 80-page suit.
“One might even ask: Would it violate H.B. 1557 for a teacher to discuss with their students this very lawsuit and the public controversy surrounding H.B. 1557? Under the plain language of the law, the answer might well be ‘yes,'” the suit states.
The law also prohibits discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students” in other grades, plaintiffs noted.
The group includes Dan and Brent VanTice, parents of two first-grade students in Saint Johns.
“Already, our children have told us that they are afraid that they will not be able to talk about their family at school,” the pair said in a statement released by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which filed the complaint with the Kaplan Hecker & Fink law firm.
“We are heartbroken that our children are already feeling isolated and stigmatized by this law.”
Plaintiffs are asking the court to enjoin enforcement of the law and award damages.
The legislation is slated to take effect on July 1.
Defendants include DeSantis, Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, and school boards in several counties.
Taryn Fenske, a spokesperson for the governor, told The Epoch Times in an email that the lawsuit is “a political Hail-Mary to undermine parental rights in Florida.”
Fenske asserted that the suit includes erroneous claims, including the notion that a person “has a right to instruct another person’s child about sexuality and gender.”
Before DeSantis signed the bill this week, Chris Sprowls, Florida’s House speaker, said its aim was “to prevent little children, 5- and 6-year olds, from walking into a classroom and being indoctrinated on radical concepts like extreme gender ideology.”
DeSantis added, “It’s about protecting parents’ ability to be involved, and it’s making sure that the classroom instruction, particularly at these very young ages, are focused on math, science, and reading, and what’s not on the page is not what’s going to be done.”