Two teachers in Florida and one former educator filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Education on Wednesday, challenging a new law restricting transgender teachers from using pronouns that match their chosen gender identity.
The law, which took effect on July 1, “pushed one plaintiff out of their teaching career and threatens to do the same for the other plaintiffs — and for the other transgender and nonbinary teachers like them across Florida,” according to the filing reported by Axios.
“Florida’s goal behind these laws is to stigmatize and demonize transgender and nonbinary people and relegate them from public life altogether,” it continues.
The suit was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in federal court on behalf of Katie Wood, a teacher at Lennard High in Ruskin, around 25 miles south of Tampa, as well as former Florida online school teacher AV Schwandes, and one Lee County teacher who went under Jane Doe. Wood and Doe are transgender, while Schwandes is nonbinary.
It specifically challenges a section of Florida law that holds that a school employee “may not provide to a student his or her preferred personal title or pronouns if such preferred personal title or pronouns do not correspond to his or her sex.”
According to the complaint, that section violates Supreme Court precedent as well as other recently adopted laws, and “sends the state-sanctioned, invidious, and false message that transgender and nonbinary people and their identities are inherently dangerous.”
Teachers who violate the law risk revocation or suspension of their teaching license.
“Those who support and enforce this law are trying to take my voice away and bury my existence. But they will not,” Wood said in a statement to the outlet.
More via Axios.
Before its passage, LGBTQ+ advocates derided the legislation as “Don’t Say They,” playing on the “Don’t Say Gay” nickname given to the 2022 law that restricts classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.
- DeSantis signed the bill into law in May, one of several bills that critics dubbed a “slate of hate” laws discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community and denying the existence of transgender people.
- It rejects a distinction between sex and gender identity, saying that “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.”
Since the law went into effect, Wood, a math teacher, was told that he could only go by Mr., Teacher, or Coach. He opted for Teacher, which felt ‘awkward,’ and was reportedly distracting to students, many of whom continued to use “Ms.,” according to the lawsuit.
All three plaintiffs have also filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as well.
Thu, 12/14/2023 – 22:00