As the school year begins in Florida, Orange County Public Schools is countering rumors about what is restricted under Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" law.
The law, which took effect July 1, bars classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in certain grades. Following the passage of the bill, a viral social media post mischaracterized what was prohibited under the bill. The post claimed that LGBTQ teachers were barred from having a photo of their spouse on their desk or speaking of their partners.
In a memo from OCPS, district spokespeople said that this was entirely false. Discussion of spouses does not meet the level of instruction.
"'There is no merit, for example, to the suggestion that the statute restricts gay and transgender teachers from 'put[ting] a family photo on their desk' or 'refer[ring] to themselves and their spouse (and their own children),'" the memo shared on Monday says."The Bill restricts 'instruction' on sexual orientation and gender identity, not mere
discussion of those subjects."
The memo noted that earlier versions of the bill prohibited discussion of sexual orientation, but that language was struck from the law that passed
"Teachers are 'free to 'respond if their students discuss ... their identities or family life,' 'provide grades and feedback if a student chooses 'LGBTQ identity' as an essay topic and answer 'questions about their families.'" the memo shared.
The confusion is understandable, as much of the bill is vague about what can and can't be said. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is little help, as he spends his days lying about the state of public school instruction. Orange County Public Schools has been named in a lawsuit about the bill, attempting to bar them from enforcing the new rules around sexual orientation and gender identity.