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Florida educator tells Board of Education, parents: ‘I’m society’s worst nightmare’

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(The Center Square) – At a Florida State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday held to discuss how the agency will enforce new laws related to parental rights and protecting women and girls in bathrooms, activists shouted obscenities and said they hoped the lawmakers “suffered.”

One self-described “educator” and “satanist” said, “I’m society’s worst nightmare. I use they/them pronouns. I’m a satanist and I’m an educator. … You can change all your rules and try to prevent people like me from being in school but people like me will always be here to educate them. … You will never erase us,” appearing to refer to members of the LBGTQ+ community.

The bill doesn’t prevent individuals from teaching because of their beliefs or gender.

Later on, when commenting about the bathroom policy, she said, “Bathrooms aren’t your safe space.”

Scores of people spoke in support of and in opposition to new laws enacted requiring disclosures to parents regarding the use of pronouns related to students with gender dysphoria and requiring that those using bathrooms only use those according to their biological sex.

At one point during the six-hour meeting, Kathleen Murry, executive director for Citizens Defending Freedom-Duval County, said she identified as “an overtaxed, wife, mother of four and retired Naval officer who remains bewildered that it’s necessary” to support a rule the SBOE was implementing related to protecting women and girls in bathrooms. She also said that Duval County Public School Board members overwhelmingly “voted in support of keeping bathrooms separate, according to biological sex.

“DCPS recognized the commonsense need for separate bathroom facilities. Interestingly enough, the vote, 5-2, was split along gender lines with both male board members voting to allow boys self-identifying as girls to use the bathroom of their choice. Our organization represents the vast number of Duval County residents who stand for the common sense separation of boys and girls in bathrooms and locker rooms.”

Last fall, Miami-Dade school board members also voted against designating October as LGBTQ History Month, in compliance with a new parental rights law. The law first enacted last year prohibits public school personnel from instructing students about sexual orientation and gender identity in K-3rd grade. The SBOE in April approved a new professional conduct rule for teachers that expands these prohibitions to 12th grade.

Melissa Bernhardt, also with CDF-Duval County, said millions of girls and women have historically relied on “the safe space of female specific bathrooms.” She asked, “When did girl’s and women’s safety become less important than a man or a group’s feelings or preferences?

“Women’s bathrooms are [so] women and girls can manage hygiene privacy and in some cases protection. … It is not just because of the obvious to limit or prevent sexual assault that could result in AIDs, STDs and emotional trauma and pregnancy, but to keep the bathroom a safe place for girls and women to support each other. Proactively keeping bathrooms and locker rooms separate mitigates what is already happening … as we can see assaults have already happened in other counties and schools are being sued.”

After Florida legislators last year “defended and expanded parental rights in education,” they received “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from parents and teachers who said they “appreciate appropriate guardrails on social issues being taught in schools,” Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said when the legislature again this year passed additional educational reforms.

Among them was HB 1069, filed by Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville, which prohibits sexual orientation or gender identity instruction in pre-K through 8th grade, expands transparency and parental controls over curriculum, and prohibits students and teachers from being required to use language that violates their personal convictions.

Another was HB 1521, filed by Rep. Rachel Plakon, R-Lake Mary, which requires restrooms and changing facilities only be used by individual’s according to their biological sex. It also applies to domestic violence centers and correctional institutions and entities that receive state licenses.

Opponents argue the laws, which went into effect July 1, are discriminatory against people who identify as different genders or use different pronouns. They argue the laws will harm the LGBTQ+ community.

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