Florida education board approves expanding Parental Rights law through 12th grade

Leaders in the Florida Department of Education approved changes to the Parental Rights in Education law, which currently bars classroom discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade. The rule change would expand that through 12th grade.

The rule – which didn't require legislative approval – ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from grades 4 to 12, unless required by existing state standards or as part of reproductive health instruction that students can choose not to take.

Before Wednesday, any discussion in classrooms beyond third grade is subject to "age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate" in accordance with state standards. Critics have deemed it as the "Don't Say Gay" law. The law drew widespread backlash nationally, with critics saying it marginalizes LGBTQ people, and kicked off a feud between the state and Disney, which publicly opposed the law.

At the governor's request, the Republican-dominated Legislature voted to dissolve a self-governing district controlled by Walt Disney World over its properties in Florida, and eventually gave DeSantis control of the board in a move widely seen as a punishment for the company opposing the law.

MORE: Expanded Florida law would ban lessons on sexual orientation, gender identity in all grades

The board oversees municipal services in Disney's theme park properties and was instrumental in the company's decision to build near Orlando in the 1960s. It turned out the previous board signed an unexpected decades-long agreement with Disney, effectively stripping the new board of its power.

DeSantis on Monday said the agreement between Disney and previous supervisors was illegal, claiming it was self-dealing and proper advance notice wasn’t given before the old board approved it, and that lawmakers had the authority to revoke it.

PREVIOUS: Disney signed surprise agreement that limits new board's power, officials say

MORE: DeSantis v. Disney: Governor seeks to nullify Reedy Creek agreement, control parks with state oversight powers

The governor also suggested the new board should sell the district’s utility in order to pay down the district’s $1 billion debts.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, DeSantis suggested Monday that the new board or lawmakers could take other actions with Disney’s 27,000 acres in central Florida, such as building a state park, a competing theme park, or a prison.

"I think the possibilities are endless," DeSantis said.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report