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Florida Teachers Challenge Pronoun Law in Federal Suit

By    |   Wednesday, 13 December 2023 04:03 PM EST

Two Florida teachers and a former educator filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Education on Wednesday, challenging a newly enacted law that restricts transgender teachers from using pronouns aligning with their gender identities.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, argue that the law is unconstitutional and infringes on their rights, reported Axios.

The suit, filed in federal court, features Katie Wood, a teacher at Lennard High in Ruskin, AV Schwandes, a former Florida Virtual School teacher residing in Orange County, and a transgender woman identified as Jane Doe, who teaches in Lee County. The legal action alleges that the law, effective since July 1, has forced one plaintiff out of their teaching career and poses a threat to others who identify as transgender or nonbinary in the state.

According to the lawsuit, the contested law prohibits school employees from using a student's preferred personal title or pronouns if they do not correspond to the student's sex. Violations could result in the revocation or suspension of a teacher's license. The suit contends that this provision contradicts Supreme Court precedent and contributes to a broader message that portrays transgender and nonbinary identities as inherently dangerous.

The Florida Department of Education did not respond to Axios' request for comment on the lawsuit.

The legal challenge adds to a growing list of cases against laws targeting LGBTQ+ individuals in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers have consistently prioritized such legislation in recent years, with critics referring to them as discriminatory and harmful.

The lawsuit asserts that Florida's objective behind these laws is to stigmatize and demonize transgender and nonbinary individuals, effectively excluding them from public life. The plaintiffs argue that the legislation, signed into law by DeSantis in May, sends a "state-sanctioned, invidious, and false message" about the dangers associated with transgender and nonbinary identities.

Critics previously dubbed the legislation as "Don't Say They," playing on the "Don't Say Gay" label given to a 2022 law restricting classroom discussions on gender identity and sexual orientation. Collectively, these laws have been characterized as a "slate of hate," discriminatory against the LGBTQ+ community, and denying the existence of transgender people.

The law in question rejects a distinction between sex and gender identity, asserting that "a person's sex is an immutable biological trait." It further argues that assigning a pronoun not corresponding to a person's sex is false.

Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.

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Two Florida teachers and a former educator filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Education on Wednesday, challenging a newly enacted law that restricts transgender teachers from using pronouns aligning with their gender identities.
florida, teachers, challenge, pronoun, lawsuit
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2023-03-13
Wednesday, 13 December 2023 04:03 PM
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