Florida Gov. DeSantis Launches Tour to Empower Parents in Education

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is stepping up his efforts to empower parents and stamp out liberal ideology in schools as part of his fall reelection campaign.

The Republican on Monday announced a statewide tour and his intention to get involved in local school board races through endorsements.

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Florida Department of Education Website Highlights Parental Rights, COVID Guidance

Recent website updates by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), under the recently appointed Commissioner of Education – Senator Manny Diaz, puts a focus on parental rights and COVID guidance.

Diaz’s appointment was announced by the State Board of Education on April 29, 2022.

The website update provides a link at the top of the FDOE home page called “Featured Topics.” The top featured topics listed under the link are “Parental Rights” and COVID-19.

Under the “Parental Rights” tab is a message that states, “Florida is taking bold steps to protect parental rights and ensure the lawfulness of instructional materials. If you believe you have found unlawful materials in your school or you are just unsure how to voice your concerns, please see the helpful information below.”

The “Parental Rights” page lists contact information to share concerns directly with FDOE or with a school’s principal. A link on the page lists contacts for all public school principals in the 67 school districts.

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Florida Department of Education Website Highlights Parental Rights, COVID Guidance

Recent website updates by the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), under the recently appointed Commissioner of Education – Senator Manny Diaz, puts a focus on parental rights and COVID guidance.

Diaz’s appointment was announced by the State Board of Education on April 29, 2022.

The website update provides a link at the top of the FDOE home page called “Featured Topics.” The top featured topics listed under the link are “Parental Rights” and COVID-19.

Under the “Parental Rights” tab is a message that states, “Florida is taking bold steps to protect parental rights and ensure the lawfulness of instructional materials. If you believe you have found unlawful materials in your school or you are just unsure how to voice your concerns, please see the helpful information below.”

The “Parental Rights” page lists contact information to share concerns directly with FDOE or with a school’s principal. A link on the page lists contacts for all public school principals in the 67 school districts.

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Teachers Union Poll Shows Support for DeSantis’ Education Positions

A national teachers union poll shows that positions adopted by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are supported by most voters.

During Florida’s 2022 legislative session, DeSantis championed a number of education related bills that his opponents often labeled as extreme. During the session, Equality Florida, a LGBTQ advocacy group, released a television advertisement “blasting” DeSantis over his positions.

However, a battleground-state survey commissioned by the American Teachers Federation shows a majority of voters approve of DeSantis’ education policy positions.

For example, one poll question found that voters, by a 32 percentage-point margin, said they were more likely to vote for candidates who believe public schools should focus less on teaching race and more on core subjects.

DeSantis signed a bill that banned critical race theory in schools.

Another poll question found that voters, by 27 points, said schools should be banned from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity to kids in kindergarten through third grade.

DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill (SB 1834), which expanded parental rights and limited the discussion of gender related issues in elementary school grades.

And by 28 points, another poll question found that voters agreed that transgender athletes should be banned from competing in girls’ sports.

In June 2021, DeSantis signed signed into law a policy banning transgender athletes from playing girls and women’s sports.

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DeSantis Keeps Promise, Launches Education Agenda for School Board Candidates

On Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis launched an education agenda focused on influencing local school board races in the 2022 election cycle.

Titled “The DeSantis Education Agenda: Putting Parents First, Protecting Parents’ Rights,”, the policy focuses on issues related to student success, parental rights and curriculum transparency.”

According to the website, “The DeSantis Education Agenda is a student-first, parent-centered initiative focused on setting Florida’s children up for success, ensuring parental rights in education, and combatting the woke agenda from infiltrating public schools….This statewide agenda is for school board candidates and school board members who are committed to advancing these priorities at the local school board level.”

In a statement provided to The Federalist, DeSantis championed the launch of the agenda, saying that “Florida has delivered the most student-focused, parent-centered education agenda in the nation” at a time when “curriculum in states around the country are being used as opportunities to indoctrinate innocent children.”

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Flash Cards Depicting Pregnant Man Used for Teaching Colors in North Carolina Preschool Classroom

A North Carolina state representative responded to an email from a constituent alerting her to the use of LGBTQ-themed flash cards, including a card with the depiction of a pregnant man, to teach colors to preschool children in an elementary school in the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS).

Upon receiving an email containing the flash card, apparently from “Progress Pride Flag Rainbow Families Flash Cards,” that depicted a pregnant man,” state Rep. Erin Paré (R-Wake) contacted the principal at Ballantine Elementary School in Wake County, noted a press release from North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

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Florida State Rep. Jason Shoaf Calls for Removal of Middle School Principal

Florida state Representative Jason Shoaf is calling for the removal of a Leon County middle school principal after the principal posted on Facebook that parents are “getting in our way.” Shoaf’s call for action is in response to a media report about comments in a Facebook post by Sarah Hembree, the principal of Elizabeth Cobb middle school, is located in Leon County.

On Tuesday, Tallahassee Reports published a story about the Facebook post by Hembree which stated in part, “Today I say – Parents, Quit pushing for stupid bills and getting in our way…schools are going to do what’s best for your students in spite of you..”

The “Quit pushing for stupid bills” statement appears to be a reference to the Parental Rights in Education bill that was recently signed into law by Governor DeSantis.

Hembree added that teachers “want to decide what they teach in their classroom based on the needs of the students in front of them….I am SO TIRED of being told we don’t know what we are doing or that we are messing with parents’ rights.”

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Kirk Cameron Presents ‘The Homeschool Awakening’: ‘The Public School System Has Become Public Enemy No. 1’

A new documentary presented by actor and filmmaker Kirk Cameron urges American parents to embark on the journey of homeschooling in order to regain control of their children’s education and protect the future of America.

Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), CAMFAM Studios, and Fathom Events announced on Monday the debut of Kirk Cameron Presents: The Homeschool Awakening, which will be in theaters for two nights only, on June 13 and 14, at 7:00 p.m. local time.

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Massachusetts Parents Sue School District Alleging Officials Violated Parental Rights by Secretly Encouraging Gender Transition

Parents in Ludlow, Massachusetts, filed a federal lawsuit that alleges school officials secretly promoted their children’s gender transition and violated their parental rights by choosing not to inform them about issues related to their children’s health and well-being.

The parents, Stephen Foote and Marissa Silvestri, and Jonathan Feliciano and Sandra Salmeron, claim in their lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Springfield Division, the Ludlow School Committee and district officials “have exceeded the bounds of legitimate pedagogical concerns and usurped the role” of parents “to direct the education and upbringing of their children, make medical and mental health decisions for their children, and to promote and preserve family privacy and integrity.”

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Florida School Superintendent Uses Misleading CNN Fact-Check to Discredit Parental Rights Bill

At a recent Leon County School Board meeting, Superintendent Rocky Hanna used a misleading CNN fact-check to publicly criticize Governor DeSantis’ rationale for the Parental Rights in Education bill, while ignoring facts related to a lawsuit filed against the school district.

The CNN fact-check uses selective comments from a DeSantis press conference, related to an incident which took place at a Leon County middle school, to question the rationale for the Parental Rights in Education bill.

The incident involved the failure of school officials to notify parents about a meeting with their daughter concerning gender issues. The parents have filed a federal lawsuit against the Leon County School Board.

Hanna, reading DeSantis’s comments from the CNN fact-check, said that “none of this happened, none of this is true, it is all fabricated…”

While DeSantis’s comments about the specifics of the incident were partly inaccurate, Hanna ignored facts that were consistent with the comments made by DeSantis.

What Hanna did not reveal in his comments to the school board is that school officials initiated an interview with the student as part of a  “Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Student Support Plan” without including the parents.

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Corey DeAngelis: More School Choice Creates Greater Incentive for Teachers’ Unions to Push Student-Focused Policies

Corey DeAngelis of the American Federation for Children

In an interview with The Star News Network, nationally known school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis said teachers’ unions would be incentivized to push for more student-focused policies in public schools if school funding followed the child and more states adopted school choice programs.

DeAngelis, the national director of research at the American Federation for Children, is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, and a senior fellow at the Reason Foundation.

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Exclusive: Former Teen Sex Educator Schools Parents on Sound Strategy to Deal with Pornographic Books

Monica Cline

A former Title X family planning instructor who was trained by Planned Parenthood and then taught at sex ed conferences for teens told The Star News Network parents who are outraged to hear about sexualized curricula in schools should plan an organized grassroots effort that involves sound research and documentation.

In an extensive interview with The Star News Network, Monica Cline stressed parents with concerns about sexualized books available to their children in school should join with other like-minded parents and approach the situation with logic and sufficient research to make sound arguments to school boards.

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Florida Measure Requiring Parental Involvement with Student Counseling Draws LGBTQ Criticism

Joe Harding

A proposed amendment to the already controversial Parental Rights in Education bill to require parental involvement on sensitive student issues has drawn more criticism from LGBTQ advocates.

The sponsor of the bill, Republican Representative Joe Harding, introduced an amendment on Friday which would require school officials to facilitate a meeting between a student and parents to disclose child-specific information.

The amendment states that the “school principal or his or her designee shall develop a plan, using all available governmental resources, to disclose such information within 6 weeks after the decision to withhold such information from the parent.”

The six-week provision gives school officials a time frame to decide a student is facing unsupportive or abusive parents related to specific issues. If there is a determination by school officials that a student could be in danger from the parents the amendment details a course of action.

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Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani Refuses to Answer Questions About Parental Rights in Education Bill

Representative Anna V. Eskamani

Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani has been a vocal critic of the the Parental Rights in Education bill, however – when given the opportunity – she refused to answer specific questions about the proposed legislation.

Eskamani told CNN that she “whole-heartedly opposes” the legislation, affirming that “it’s always appropriate to acknowledge that LGBTQ+ people and families exist, and any effort to erase them is rooted in homophobia and transphobia.”

Eskamani and other progressive leaders and organizations have labeled the proposal the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, based on a provision that prohibits a school district from encouraging classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels.

State Representative Carlos Guillermo-Smith (D-District 49), an openly LGBTQ Latino legislator, said, “We should and we are encouraging these types of conversations in our schools.”

However, the bill address a number of issues related to parental rights.

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Amid Parental Rights Debate, Confidentiality Policies Vary Across Florida School Boards

Amid a debate over parental rights in education legislation (HB 1557/SB 1834), a review of policies across several Florida school boards indicates there is inconsistent guidance related to parental rights and student confidentiality.

For example, recent reports about elementary school officials in Clay County engaging in the counseling of a student without notifying parents revealed competing views about parental rights within the school district.

Clay county school officials allegedly defended their actions by invoking “confidentiality rules” to justify not including the parents in the counseling sessions.

However, a lawsuit filed notes that the Clay County Public Schools written guidance expressly contradicts the use of “confidentiality rules.” An exhibit attached to the lawsuit notes that children do not have a confidentiality right and that school officials must obtain parental consent before guaranteeing confidentiality to a child.

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Florida Progressives Ignore Gender Issues in Public Schools, Call Parental Rights Bill Homophobia

During the debate over Florida’s Parental Rights legislation (HB 1557/ SB 1834), progressive politicians are ignoring issues in public schools and calling the proposal the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

The bill addresses a number of concerns related to communications between school officials and students. The bill requires school officials to notify parents if issues arise related to a students mental, emotional physical well-being. In addition, the bill prohibits school officials from encouraging  students to withhold information.

Issues related to these provisions are currently being litigated in two separate legal cases across Florida. For example, parents are suing the Clay County Schools Board for counseling their elementary school child related to gender without their knowledge. The parents became aware of the situation when their child tried to commit suicide. School officials allegedly defended their actions by invoking “confidentiality rules” to justify not including the parents in the counseling sessions.

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Florida Department of Education Takes Down Web Page with External Links to LGBTQ Advocacy Groups

After The Florida Capital Star sought comment from officials about a web page with hyper-links to LGBTQ advocacy groups on the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) website, the web page was removed.

FDOE officials told The Florida Capital Star that the content on the web page was under review.

The Florida Capital Star also found that at least one Florida school district was using the presence of the resources on the FDOE web page as justification for certain LGBTQ school activities.

When asked to provide the school policies that support advocacy of LGBTQ issues in middle schools, the Leon County School District provided a link to the FDOE web page with the external links  to LGBTQ advocacy groups.

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Rep. Eric Swalwell Calls Parent Protestors ‘Looney Carnival Barkers’

Eric Swalwell

A California congressman is facing backlash for a series of tweets slamming unvaccinated Americans and parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.

“I’m losing my Covid patience [thread]. I’ve tried to reason with the unvaxxed. I’ve directed some to medical pros. I don’t judge but hear them out and steer them to facts. The unvaxxed love to say it’s about choice. But you know who doesn’t have a choice? My 3 kids under 5,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15)  said on Twitter. 

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Florida Family Files Federal Lawsuit Against School Board over Gender Policy

On Monday, the Child & Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Florida on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Littlejohn against the Leon County School Board (LCSB) related to the Board’s gender policy. The defendants also include Superintendent Rocky Hanna and Dr. Kathleen Rodgers.

The suit alleges that the LCSB ignored the Littlejohn’s parental rights relating to their daughter’s gender confusion by concealing from them actions taken by school officials.

Child and Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. (CPR-C) is a non-partisan, non-profit public interest law firm whose mission is to defend parental rights and protect children’s well-being against the impacts of gender identity ideology.

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Florida Middle School Teachers Encouraged Not to Share Student Conversations on Gender/Sexuality Issues with Parents

Emails show that the sponsor of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club at Montford Middle School – located in Tallahassee, Florida – advised a teacher that they were not obligated to share information from students related to gender/sexuality issues with their parents.

Stacy Thompson, the media specialist at Montford and GSA sponsor, was asked a question by a teacher after Thompson sought out volunteers to post “Safe Place” flags in Montford classrooms.

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Parental Rights Bill Awaiting Governor DeSantis Signature

Woman holding her child

One of the 24 bills officially submitted to Governor Ron DeSantis Friday was the parental rights bill (HB 241). If it is approved by DeSantis, the bill would establish and expand parents rights related to the health care and education of their minor child or children.

One of the major changes the bill brings to the current law is the expansion in parents rights over their child’s school records that currently sits primarily in the hands of schools and their districts. Two of these rights – in Section 5, Section 1014.04 (a) and (d) Florida Statutes – include the right to direct the education and care of his or her minor child and the right to access and review all school records relating to his or her minor child.

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Parental Bill of Rights Legislation Heads to DeSantis’ Desk

The Florida Legislature passed a bill instituting a “parental bill of rights” and sent it to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis.

The bill, HB 241, worked its way through the Florida House and then passed through the Florida Senate on Thursday. It was passed on a nearly party-line vote, with Sen. Lauren Book (D-32), the lone Democrat, siding with Republicans and voting to approve the bill.

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