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Workshop in West Palm Beach helping people navigate through Florida's new school legislation

Stop WOKE Act, new law limiting use of preferred pronouns among new laws discussed
Posted at 11:40 PM, Sep 14, 2023

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Rohi's Readery in The Square in downtown West Palm Beach hosted a workshop on Thursday called "Everyday Teaching 4 Joy & Justice."

This is the first of a series to help the community understand the new school legislation in Florida and how to advocate for their rights.

"There's a lot of gray areas and I feel like things aren't being explained well, so I feel like I'm here tonight to hopefully gain some clarity," Jaime Castellanos, a teacher at a private preschool, said.

"At the preschool level, do you already see some hurdles with everything going on?" asked WPTV reporter Joel Lopez.

Jaime Castellanos teaches preschool and was among those who attended the session Thursday night.
Jaime Castellanos teaches preschool and was among those who attended the session Thursday night.

"The only hurdle I may see is from a parent," Castellanos said. "Kids are the most open-minded, beautiful, accepting people — always."

The workshop focused on multiple laws including the "Stop WOKE Act," what critics all the "Don't Say Gay" law and the new law limiting the use of preferred pronouns.

Other laws that were discussed Thursday included the following:

Thursday's workshop discussed multiple new laws that impact education at Florida schools.
Thursday's workshop discussed multiple new laws that impact education at Florida schools.

The event was led by Dr. Bianca Nightengale-Lee, as a partnership with the bookstore.

"Everyone's educational context in school is different," Nightengale-Lee said. "What you can do in one institution is different than the other, so it has to be very flexible in that way."

Nightengale-Lee is an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Florida Atlantic University, bringing together parents, educators, future teachers and more.

"The problem is there's such an overarching voice about censorship and not saying anything, so people don't say anything," Nightengale-Lee said. "This collective is about allowing people to have a voice, to speak and say, 'I'm afraid of this particular thing,' and as a collective, we come together using our knowledge and thinking about how do we strategize to still be vocal in ways that fulfill us?"

Dr. Bianca Nightengale-Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at Florida Atlantic University, hosted the event at Rohi's Readery on Thursday night.
Dr. Bianca Nightengale-Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at Florida Atlantic University, hosted the event at Rohi's Readery on Thursday night.

This was the first of a series of workshops in partnership with the bookstore.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that we are doing right by our education community, and that's not just our educators, but it's everyone that does work with our children so that they feel empowered in who they are," Pranoo Kumar, the owner of Rohi's Readery, said.

Organizers said they'll be having free meetings monthly, each time tackling a different issue with education.

"I refuse to stay in a place of feeling upset, feeling frustrated because I know there's so much work to be done and know that there are really great people all around doing it as well," Kumar said.

Pranoo Kumar, the owner of Rohi's Readery, speaks about what she's doing in light of new legislation that impacts Florida schools.
Pranoo Kumar, the owner of Rohi's Readery, speaks about what she's doing in light of new legislation that impacts Florida schools.