Originally published in Orlando Sentinel —
Our OC School Board is working to mitigate the attack on education by DeSantis’ new laws. These laws are racist, homophobic, sexist. The laws are so vague that applying them to our schools is difficult. Last night, I heard this School Board’s commitment to do the best they could NOT to let the laws hurt our children.
We face laws that deny the existence of LGBTQIA+ students and demonize Trans children. There is no clarity on what the laws allow, e.g., parent requested name and pronoun use. Nearly all the Board members will move to define what a school and teacher can use, since guidance from the state is absent. The Board apologized for a member of the public’s comment that to be Trans was a mental defect when we know 1% of babies are born intersex.
A small group is intent on extensive book banning. Books teach leadership, empathy, different viewpoints, critical thinking, and more. Removing books with LGBTQIA+, sexual, true African American history, and racism content hurts our children and their prospects. They need to read a variety of viewpoints and be able to hear their own voice in what they read. The Board made clear they were overseeing book bans.
The Board can’t recommend guidelines that have teachers break laws. The Board will provide guidelines that support students while ensuring that teachers don’t lose their teaching certificates. Board members can’t risk being removed because their replacements would be DeSantis appointees, making the situation worse for our schools.
President, Florida National Organization for Women