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Florida Department of Education passes changes to accompany Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees act

Posted at 6:03 PM, Oct 19, 2022

(WTXL) — Board members unanimously approved the changes during their meeting in Orlando, Wednesday.

It came after impassioned public comment — which at times got fiery.

With unanimous board approval, Florida's public teachers are now at risk of losing jobs and licenses for violating either the "Stop Woke Act" or what critics have called the "Don't Say Gay" bill.

The rule change from state ed officials coming after the GOP-controlled legislature and governor green-lit the two controversial laws, earlier this year.

One prohibits teaching concepts like inherent racism or white privilege the other bans instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in K-3 classrooms.

"Let's stick to the fundamentals of teaching math, English, science," Leslie Kirschenbaum, a parent of Seminole County said.

Supporters cheered approval saying the state now has more enforcement power beyond filing lawsuits against school districts.

"The bottom line is we have many activists across our state masquerading as educators. It is time to hold them accountable," Matthew Woodside, a teacher in Brevard County said.

But the more than 100 LGBTQ advocates opposed.

"My name is Alyssa MacKenzie — my pronouns are she, her, or they. By telling you that, I have just broken this proposed rule," MacKenzie said.

One Orange County teacher was escorted out by security, refusing to yield after a minute of speaking.

"You are villainizing us unnecessarily with this bill. We are the teachers — we are the good ones. Don't be confused," Carmela Detoma, an Orange County teacher said.

This wasn't the only controversial rule approved, Wednesday.

The board also green-lit new guidance on non-binary bathrooms. It requires districts to tell parents each facility's location and how they'll be monitored.

Supporters call it transparency. Critics warn it's discriminatory to transgender students.