Current, Former Florida Teachers Sue State Education Department Over Pronoun Law

(Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

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Two teachers and one former educator filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Florida Department of Education (FDOE), alleging that a law barring them from using preferred pronouns in the classroom is an attempt to “relegate them from public life altogether.”

The “Let Kids Be Kids” law was signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in May and prohibits any discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms. The teachers, who are being represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and identify as transgender and nonbinary, argue in the lawsuit that they are being discriminated against and pushed out of the classroom. (RELATED: Major Hospital System To Let Patients Designate Their Sex As ‘X’)

“There is no American right more fundamental than freedom of expression and protection from the government that weaponizes their disagreements on that expression. Subsection 3 violates both of these,” Katie Wood, one of the teachers who identifies as a transgender woman, said in a press release. “I am a transgender teacher, but I am a human being first. As a human being living in America, I demand to be treated with fairness and equity at work. Those who support and enforce this law are trying to take my voice away and bury my existence.”

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the "Say Gay Anyway" rally in Miami Beach, Florida on March 13, 2022. - Florida's state senate on March 8 passed a controversial bill banning lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools, a step that critics complain will hurt the LGBTQ community. Opposition Democrats and LGBTQ rights activists have lobbied against what they call the "Don't Say Gay" law, which will affect kids in kindergarten through third grade, when they are eight or nine years old. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Members and supporters of the LGBTQ community attend the “Say Gay Anyway” rally in Miami Beach, Florida on March 13, 2022.  (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

The law bars educators at K-12 schools in the state from using a “preferred personal title or pronouns if such preferred personal title or pronouns do not correspond to his or her sex,” according to the text. DeSantis argued that the law protects parental rights by “prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Pre-K through 8th grade.”

The lawsuit claims that one of the teachers, who identifies as nonbinary, was suspended in September for using the title “Mx” instead of Miss or Mrs. The teacher was fired in October after further refusing to comply with the law and argues in the lawsuit that the board “discriminated against Mx. Schwandes with respect to terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of sex.”

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that the portion of the law barring them from using preferred pronouns be struck down and award them “compensatory damages, in an amount to be proved at trial,” according to the lawsuit.

SPLC and the FDOE did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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