Guest essay by Florida mom Nicole Pejovich: What's Happening to Florida's Public Schools? Related video below 2023-06-19
This article shared 4646 times since Mon Jun 19, 2023
A queer Florida parent answers questions about recent laws, how Floridians are coping, and how you can help
Books pulled from school library shelves by the dozens.
All evidence of inclusivity stripped from classrooms.
The politically motivated takeover of a beloved liberal arts college.
What sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel or a page out of a WWII history book is a frightening reality for Floridians since Gov. Ron Desantis and fellow conservative lawmakers enacted their oppressive agenda.
First, they pushed to eradicate African American studies and LGBTQ awareness in public schools. Then, they came for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Gender Studies in colleges. Now, they are outright attacking the transgender community and migrant workers.
It's clear that the "War on Woke" is actually a campaign against marginalized populations and academic freedoms. With policy as their weapon and hatred as their fuel, conservatives have made Florida a battleground for human rights.
While some people are, understandably, fleeing the state in search of more accepting communities, many are deliberately staying put. And many more don't have the means to relocate.
Floridians are frightened but determined to fight for their freedom to thrive in this state.
"It's a politically theatrical cash grab at the cost of human liberty and our children's futures," laments Sarasota parent Justin Mikula, who recently attended a rally in support of New College. Mikula, like many concerned parents, is planning to move his family to a more progressive state within the next few years.
For one parent, reality set in when her children missed their first book fair of the year because the materials available didn't have time to pass through the media specialist for approval. They finally got their book fair near the end of the school year, but the selection was limited to district-approved books and certainly didn't include any of the titles on the long list of Florida's banned books [ www.miaminewtimes.com/news/more-than-350-books-banned-in-florida-schools-since-last-july-16817328 ].
The book bans are not relegated to school districts under right-wing rule. Thanks to the recent legislative session, any parent who takes issue with any educational material in a public school can petition to have it reviewed by newly selected district officials for potential restriction or removal from shelves altogether.
A Miami district recently banned Amanda Gorman's poem. You may recognize it as the one she read at President Biden's inauguration. Florida currently holds an unfortunate title as one of the leading states for book bans.
Literature isn't the only target. Thanks to the expansion of the Parental Rights in Education bill, any discussions or educational material on LGBTQ or race-based topics are banned from all public school classrooms. Educators caught in violation of the new law will get slapped with a third-degree felony.
The movie in question is Disney's animated Strange World, a PG story about a family's quest to save their planet. It displays themes of cooperation and respect for nature. If found guilty, Barbee could face thousands of dollars in fines and up to five years in prison.
Local parent Jessica Thomason, who witnessed the event, recalls, "That kind of vitriol was honestly very alarming." She says it motivated her to "show up and speak … because the person who said that was speaking as a parent, and she doesn't speak for me." Thomason has since attended every school board meeting, as well as the county's superintendent search meetings, and has spoken during public comment periods.
This isn't the first time Zeigler's name has made shocking headlines. She is one of the founding members of Moms For Liberty, a far-right organization with a motive to gain positions of power and destroy public educationan organization that happened to endorse as many as 270 school board candidates nationally in 2022.
You can show support and solidarity by raising awareness about what's happening to Florida schools and contacting elected officials to express your opposition to oppressive legislation.
It's also imperative to participate in your local elections and pay close attention to changes in elected officials. Moms for Liberty has active chapters in Illinois and will likely back some candidates running in the next election cycle.
Change, both positive and negative, begins locally. If we combat hate in our close communities, we have a better chance as a society.
Nicole Pejovich is a freelance writer, parent of two elementary-aged daughters, and member of the LGBTQ+ community. She writes for OutCoast.com, a queer travel website, and Project Pride SRQ, a local LGBTQ+ non-profit. When she's not writing, you'll find her enjoying time with her kiddos, gardening, supporting local artists, or smashing the patriarchy.
This article shared 4646 times since Mon Jun 19, 2023
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