Lawsuit Against Parental Rights in Education Act Settled

According to a press release from the office of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday, March 11, a major lawsuit against the state’s Parental Rights in Education Act will be dismissed.

The law, which DeSantis signed in 2022, prohibits classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity in K-3 classrooms. It was supported at the time by Parental Rights Florida, led by our state coordinator, Patti Sullivan.

Immediately upon passage of the bill, a lawsuit was filed by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups who alleged the measure was “an unlawful attempt to stigmatize, silence, and erase LGBTQ people in Florida’s public schools.” That lawsuit has come to its conclusion as both sides have reached an agreement on the meaning of the law.

The state has agreed to issue a notice to the school districts in the state clarifying that the law applies to classroom instruction but does not prohibit other mentions or discussions related to gender identity. In exchange, the litigants have agreed to drop their appeal, which has been before the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit for more than a year. They also acknowledged in the settlement that the law does not violate the Constitution and that First Amendment rights were never at risk.

The settlement agreement still has to be approved by the court, which both sides expect is a mere formality at this point.

Governor Ron DeSantis’s office is claiming victory, as the settlement leaves the law intact and unchanged:

“We fought hard to ensure this law couldn’t be maligned in court, as it was in the public arena by the media and large corporate actors,” said General Counsel Ryan Newman. “We are victorious, and Florida’s classrooms will remain a safe place under the Parental Rights in Education Act.”

It is our position that the bill was never “Don’t Say ‘Gay’.” 

Understandably, that unfair interpretation resulted in a lot of unnecessary fear among Florida’s sexual and gender minority community. This week’s settlement puts those fears to rest, assuring Florida teachers and students that their First Amendment rights are still protected.

Parents, meanwhile, can have the peace of knowing that they will be the ones to decide how and when to bring up these sensitive topics with their K-3 children.

The Parental Rights Foundation remains grateful to Patti for her tireless efforts in making this bill a reality, and to Governor DeSantis who signed it into law. We are also grateful for this settlement, which resolves so many fears while leaving the law in place to protect children in Florida’s primary schools.

And we are grateful to you for standing with us to make possible, around the country, laws that protect a parent’s vital role in the upbringing, education, and care of their minor children.