TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — The Leon County School Board (LCSB) voted unanimously to pass a new policy that may help curb the burgeoning trend of progressive teacher activism in public schools. The board voted unanimously to add “Freedom of Speech in Non-Instructional Settings” to the LCSB policy manual, at the most recent LCSB meeting on October 11.
The policy adds five new procedures that seek to help “avoid situations in which the administrative staff member’s expression could conflict with the District’s interests.” The procedures advise that the teacher should:
A. state clearly that his/her expression represents personal views and not necessarily those of the School District;
B. refrain from expressions that would disrupt harmony among co-workers;
C. refrain from expressions that would interfere with the maintenance of discipline by school officials;
D. not make threats or abusive or personally defamatory comments about co-workers, administrators, staff or officials of the District;
E. refrain from making public expressions which s/he knows to be false or are made without regard for truth or accuracy.
The procedures aren’t likely to prevent ardent activists from transmitting their personal convictions to students, but they provide more ground rules for a gray area. Procedure C would be relevant for any teachers looking to bend or disregard school rules for LGBTQ students – such as the Miami guidance counselor who recommended staff encourage students to lie to parents.
PARENTS TAKING ACTION
The LCSB actions are the latest in what has become an increasingly contentious ideological battleground, namely, education in public schools. Emboldened by legal and rhetorical support from Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican-led state legislature, many parents are taking civic action to push back on teachers pushing progressive views of gender and sexuality on children.
Many parents across the state have begun reporting hundreds of inappropriate library books with graphic sexual content or positive reinforcement for transgender intiatives often available to young children. Schools in Florida pulled 566 books from school libraries to protect students – the second highest number behind Texas.
TALLAHASSEE EDUCATION ACTIVISTS
The recent uptick in parental involvement seems to be irritating many teachers. After DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law in March, Tallahassee Reports wrote about Brandy Vance, a Tallahassee school teacher at J. Michael Conley Elementary School at Southwood, who argued parents with traditional family values are the bigger problem.
“The only people indoctrinating your kids is YOU,” Vance wrote in a Facebook post. “You do it with religion. You do it with sexuality. You do it with colors and toys and clothes.”
In the post, Vance included a photo of herself wearing a t-shirt with a rainbow-colored unicorn on it.
Days earlier, a principal at Tallahassee’s Cobb Middle School, Sarah Hembree, blasted parents for advocating on behalf of their children’s education.
“Parents, Quit pushing for stupid bills and getting in our way. Legislatures, Education is not your lane – get out of it,” Hembree wrote, according to Tallahassee Reports. “Schools are going to do what’s best for your students in spite of you.”