PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Florida teachers could now lose their professional license if they are in violation of the "Parental Rights In Education" law, which critics call the "Don't Say Gay" measure.
The Florida Board of Education put the punishment in place this week, along with a series of other rules regarding controversial new education laws.
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"It seemed like a natural next step," said Kristen Stevenson, who leads the Palm Beach County Moms For Liberty chapter. "If we are going to put these rules in place, there needs to be accountability."
Stevenson supports the new rules that could strip a teacher's license if they intentionally violate the "Parental Rights In Education" law.
"In all honesty, I don't think this will apply to 99.9% of the teachers in Palm Beach County," Stevenson said. "The majority of teachers are not doing these things in K-3."
The law, which critics call the "Don't Say Gay" measure, bans instruction on gender identity or sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade classrooms.
"It’s a sinking feeling. Like a never-ending feeling of, what shoe is going to drop next?" said Michael Woods, a teacher Santaluces Community High School, west of Lantana.
Woods feels this new rule is the latest blow to the LGBTQ community.
"It seems almost like, I would use the word 'witch hunt.' But 'deliberate scare tactic' is more like it," Woods said.
The School District of Palm Beach County released the following statement about the new rule:
"The District is currently reviewing the new legislation and, following legal review, will determine if additional guidance is needed to ensure compliance.
However, it is important to understand that our District teaches the State standards. We facilitate student conversations in a manner that provokes thought among our students in an age appropriate manner. We are proud of our teachers and believe our results speak for themselves. The District will continue to work with our departments, school based administrators, and teachers to ensure that we are supporting their efforts while being cognizant of legislation."
"I think, at the end of the day, we probably won't see any difference in the day-to-day," Stevenson said.
Woods hopes that's the case, but fears teachers will lose their jobs or not go into the profession at a time when we already have a critical teacher shortage across the state.
"This is a mission that people are on. And in order to get the silence that they want, impact that they want, erase a whole group of marginalized people, they are going to have to make examples," Woods said.
The new rule also applies to teachers who violate the so-called '"Stop Woke Act," relating to inherent racism and white privilege.
Another rule passed this week requires parents to be informed of gender neutral bathrooms on school campuses, including where they are located and how they are monitored.