Teachers voice concern after Orange County previews impact of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ on classrooms – WFTV
VIDEO: Teachers voice concerns after Orange County previews impact of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ on classrooms Teachers voice concern after Orange County previews impact of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ on classrooms
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Representatives of Orange County teachers sounded the alarm Monday after principals announced that Orange County Public Schools would impose strict restrictions on classroom behavior after the new law. from Florida on Parental Rights in Education, aka the “Don’t Say Gay”. law, took effect.
In private, administrator-only seminars last week, OCPS attorneys briefed school principals on behaviors that would and would not be legal under the law during a “Camp Legal” presentation.
According to representatives of the county teachers‘ association, teachers and staff members will not be allowed to wear rainbow clothing, including lanyards distributed by the district last year. Elementary school teachers said they were discouraged from putting pictures of their same-sex partners on their desks or telling students about them.
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“Safe Space” stickers aimed at LGBTQ students may need to be removed from doors, teachers will need to notify parents if a student “walks out” to them, and they must use birth-assigned pronouns regardless of what parents allow, the CTA reported.
Some of the measures appeared to be well outside of what the law actually prohibits, as it focuses primarily on mental health monitoring and school programs.
“It will be alarming if our district chooses to interpret this law in the most extreme way,” said CTA President-elect Clinton McCracken. “We want them to protect student privacy. We want them to make sure they are creating and helping to create safe classrooms. We believe our school board supports this.
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An OCPS representative confirmed the existence of the seminar, which they said took place in three separate sessions at Apopka High School and was part of the annual training. However, they said the guidance provided to directors was not part of the planned seminar, a copy of the presentation obtained by WFTV shows.
“During the presentation, administrators offered hypothetical scenarios based on the new bylaws and verbal responses were provided based on limited guidance from the Florida Department of Education,” the spokesperson wrote. “Once further guidance is received from the Florida Department of Education, the district will provide formal direction to administrators and staff.”
In a separate conversation, an OCPS official said the district should err on the side of caution until state officials provide more clarity. The strict interpretations, they said, were necessary to protect both students and teachers. The latter could have their teaching license revoked if they break the law, the official said.
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McCracken also called for transparency and said he hoped the rules would change. He also called on people to support teachers at the district board meeting on Tuesday.
“It’s a neighborhood that’s been really at the forefront of getting the state to protect and to make sure that we provide safe places for our students,” he said. “I have confidence that they will continue to be that kind of neighborhood.”
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