Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (File)

Federal Government Challenges Florida Law Restricting Teachers’ Use Of Preferred Pronouns

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (File)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (File)

The Biden administration has entered the legal fight against a controversial Florida law restricting teachers’ use of students’ preferred pronouns and titles. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a friend-of-the-court brief this week, arguing that the law violates the rights of transgender teachers and students.

The law, passed earlier this year, requires school employees to use students’ pronouns and titles that correspond with their sex assigned at birth. It was met with immediate backlash from LGBTQ+ rights groups who argued it discriminates against transgender and non-binary students.

Related: September Hearing Slated In Alabama On Florida School Pronoun Law

DOJ Challenges Law’s Validity

The DOJ brief, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, argues that the law violates the First Amendment rights of teachers and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.

“The challenged law compels public school teachers to speak in a way that contradicts their professional judgment and violates their First Amendment right to free speech,” the brief states.

The brief goes on to argue that the law unfairly targets transgender students by creating a hostile learning environment. “[The law] sends a message to transgender students that they are unwelcome and unworthy of respect,” the DOJ argues.

Related: Federal Judge Blocks Florida Teacher Pronoun Law, Calling It A “Pedagogical” Decision

Lawsuit Brought by Educators

The lawsuit challenging the law was filed in February by Katie Wood, a transgender Hillsborough County teacher, and AV Schwandes, a non-binary teacher fired last year by Florida Virtual School for using a preferred pronoun.

“We are grateful for the DOJ’s support in this fight for equality,” said a spokesperson for the ACLU, which is representing the teachers in the lawsuit. “This law is discriminatory and has no place in our schools.”

Florida Defends Law

The Florida Department of Education has defended the law, arguing that it protects parents’ rights to be involved in their children’s education.

However, critics argue that the law prioritizes parental control over the well-being of transgender students.

Uncertain Future for Law

The DOJ’s involvement in the lawsuit is a significant development in the ongoing fight over transgender rights. It remains to be seen how the court will ultimately rule on the law’s validity. This case is likely to be closely watched by LGBTQ+ rights advocates and educators nationwide.

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