The Daily Telegraph
Teachers barred from using trans pronouns
Ron Desantis supports bill to protect teachers from ‘using language that would violate their convictions’
Teachers in Florida are set to be banned from using transgender pronouns under a Bill backed by Ron Desantis, the Republican governor. Republican legislators have introduced measures in the state, which has become the epicentre of the culture war in education. Last year, Mr Desantis overhauled the curriculum, blocking the teaching of “critical race theory” and imposing curbs on how schools teach topics such as sexual orientation.
TEACHERS in Florida are set to be banned from using transgender pronouns under a bill backed by Ron Desantis, the Republican governor.
Encouraged by Mr Desantis, Republican legislators have introduced measures in a state that has become the epicentre of the culture war in education. The 44-year-old has emerged as the main threat to Donald Trump securing the 2024 Republican nomination.
Burnishing his “anti-woke” credentials, Mr Desantis has turned Florida – for decades a swing state – into a Republican stronghold, crushing his Democrat opponent in last November’s gubernatorial election.
Last year he overhauled teaching in the state’s schools, banning the teaching of “critical race theory” and imposing curbs on how schools teach topics such as sexual orientation.
Schools were also instructed to observe “victims of Communism Day” in which high-school pupils were given anti-communism lessons. It was a move that was popular with Florida’s substantial Cuban émigré population.
The popularity that Mr Desantis had with Florida voters enabled the Republicans to enjoy sweeping gains in the legislative elections last year, giving the party a super-majority, which means the measure are likely to pass.
Egged on by Mr Desantis, they are planning to accelerate what they regard as the “war on woke” in public schools. One move would ban staff and students from using pronouns that do not correspond with the child’s sex at birth. The measure would delay lessons on sex education and gender identity until after eighth grade – when children are 13 and 14.
It builds on legislation spearheaded by Mr Desantis last year that banned the lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten.
The measure, dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill by its critics, gave parents the right to sue school districts if they ignored their wishes on sex education.
Clay Yarborough, the Republican state senator, who introduced the latest bill, said it enshrined the “God-given” right of parents to raise their children.
“The decision about when and if certain topics should be introduced to young children belongs to parents,” he added. “The bill also protects students and teachers from being forced to use language that would violate their personal convictions.”
Other proposed changes would give parents the power to veto class teaching materials. The measures also recommend scrapping gender studies as a major – or specialised subject – in a college curriculum.
Critics warned that the plan would isolate LGBTQ students.
“It’s making it hard for them to receive the full support that schools should be giving every child,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign.
Another initiative coming before Florida legislators in the new session would require colleges to say how much they spend on diversity programmes.