Palm Beach County superintendent, school board members may denounce 'Don't Say Gay' bill

School board to vote on sending letter to Florida legislators, expressing their 'displeasure' with bill
The Palm Beach County School Board may officially denounce HB 1557 and SB 1834, both called the Parental Rights In Education measures.jpg
Posted at 3:00 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 15:37:24-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Top Palm Beach County public school officials could soon formally denounce the controversial so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill that's working its way through the Florida Legislature.

The Palm Beach County School Board on Wednesday will vote to send a letter to state legislators, voicing their "displeasure" with HB 1557 and SB 1834, both officially called the "Parental Rights In Education" measure.

If the bills are approved, public school districts in Florida would not be allowed to "encourage classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students."

The changes would mainly apply to students in kindergarten through third grade, and parents would be allowed to sue school districts that don’t comply.


In the proposed letter to state lawmakers, Palm Beach County Superintendent Mike Burke and all seven school board members said they "stand firmly against any legislation that would compromise acceptance and respect for our students based on race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other demographic targeted for discriminatory exclusion."

Calling the bills "worrisome," the letter said the measures "threaten the ideals of inclusion" and "undermine existing protections for LGBTQ students by standing as a barrier to teachers who are currently providing a safe, inclusive classroom."

In the letter, Burke and school board members said they "must stand up against hate in every form and fashion."

They added that "LGBTQ matters are conversations for older students" and are not discussed in primary grades — meaning elementary school — within the School District of Palm Beach County.

"We understand the importance of age-appropriate conversations that will empower our students to develop a tolerance, respect, and acceptance for those who are different than themselves," the letter states.

Florida lawmakers who support the contentious legislation argue that children in elementary school should be focused on subjects like reading and math, and not gender identity.

Both bills are now working their way through state House and Senate committees and will be voted on before the current legislative session ends on March 11. If approved, the curriculum changes would go into effect on July 1.

The Palm Beach County School Board will hold a meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, where it's scheduled to vote on sending the letter to Florida legislators.