Erin Brown, a teacher in St. Johns County, Fla., typically keeps a gay pride flag hanging up in her classroom. As the faculty sponsor of a Gay-Straight Alliance club at her high school, she wants her students to know they are safe with her.
But this year, Ms. Brown found herself quietly repurposing the flag.
No longer on full display, it now hangs as a “rainbow background,” partially obscured among posters, photos, a calendar and other trinkets on her class bulletin board.
The change is emblematic of the fear, uncertainty and confusion many educators in Florida say they are feeling this school year, as new laws take effect restricting teaching on gender identity, sexual orientation and race and expanding the oversight of books.
report by PEN America, a free speech group. The bills, which overwhelmingly focused on K-12 schools and were sponsored almost exclusively by Republican lawmakers, most commonly addressed race. But an increasing number — 23 bills, up from five last year — focused on L.G.B.T.Q. issues, PEN America found.
one recent poll, and a majority of candidates that Mr. DeSantis endorsed for school boards in Florida won their elections this week.
Mr. DeSantis “firmly believes” in the rights of parents to know what schools are teaching their children, his office said in a statement.
One of the new Florida laws, the Parental Rights in Education Act, bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and says that instruction in older grades must be age appropriate. The law, nicknamed “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, also requires schools to notify parents about changes in student services, such as if a transgender or nonbinary student wants to use new bathrooms or locker facilities, or seeks to change their name or pronouns at school.
Another law, known as the “Stop WOKE Act,” limits teaching on race and racism, including prohibiting instruction that would compel students to feel responsibility, guilt or anguish for what other members of their race did in the past.