Florida education board tees up new rules before its meeting

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Hallway of Boca Ciega High School in Pinellas County [Photo credit: Pinellas County Schools]

The State Board of Education is slated next week to weigh approval of a slew of proposed rules, including measures that would prohibit the use of the social media app TikTok on campuses and bar teachers from asking students about their preferred pronouns.

Some of the proposals, which will go before the board during a meeting Wednesday, stem from new laws that came out of the 2023 legislative session. For example, a controversial law (HB 1069) signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in May limits the way teachers and students can use their preferred pronouns in schools.

A news release from the governor’s office announcing the bill signing described it as protecting students “from having to declare their pronouns in school.”

A proposal slated for consideration by the state education board dealing with “principles of professional conduct” for teachers would make violations of the law related to “personal titles and pronouns” punishable by revocation or suspension of educators’ teaching licenses.

The proposed rule also would update professional conduct standards to include an expansion of an existing law that prohibits instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grades.

The expansion would broaden the prohibition to include pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

The proposal also would require that teachers follow an existing rule that such instruction not be provided in high-school grades unless it is required by state academic standards or is “part of a reproductive health course or health lesson for which a student’s parent has the option to have his or her student not attend.”

Critics of the new law have argued that it targets vulnerable LGBTQ youth.

Another measure signed by DeSantis in May (HB 379) prohibits the use of TikTok on devices owned by school districts and through internet access provided by districts.

The state education board will consider a proposal that district school boards adopt an “internet safety policy” to carry out the TikTok restrictions.

In addition to banning access of the app on schools’ internet and devices, the rule also would require that TikTok cannot be “used to communicate or promote any school district, school, school-sponsored club, extracurricular organization, or athletic team.”

The state Board of Education is scheduled to meet Wednesday at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando.

©2023 The News Service of Florida

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