How the Parental Rights in Education Act will impact Central Florida school districts this year

ORLANDO, Fla. — The first day of classes in Central Florida are a week away, and changes are coming.


It will be the first time the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics – will be in place.

The language of the bill itself leaves room for districts to interpret some things themselves.

READ: Florida responds to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ confusion, says enforcement will be limited

Orange County Public Schools is the first district to release guidelines based on the law that have been written by legal services. It outlines what teachers can and cannot do regarding LGBTQ issues this fall.

The district’s legal team sent a letter to the superintendent, saying “We understand the stress recent legislation has placed on teachers and principals.”

The team said that the school board will change student services in monitoring mental health counseling, follow-ups by the teacher after the students discloses personal information, and when the teacher is required to encourage the child to discuss matters with parents.

READ: Despite heavy consequences, Tallahassee still mum on teacher ‘Don’t Say Gay’ do’s and don’ts

As for kindergarten through third-grade teachers, talk of sexual orientation or gender identity may not happen, whether it’s homosexual or heterosexual.

School districts in Brevard and Volusia counties said they will follow Florida statue as written, and do not have separate guidelines.

Orange, Brevard and Volusia counties have said they will not let the new law stop anyone from putting a photo of their spouse on their desk, no matter the sex, or wear LGBTQ-friendly clothing.

READ: Florida families and advocacy groups file suit to block “Don’t Say Gay” law

Seminole County had a workshop last week where they decided parents will be notified of student health services at the beginning of the year and could opt out.

Osceola County Schools has not released details on its plan so far.

Districts in Flagler and Marion counties did not return requests for comment.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.