EducationJudicialPaxton Files Brief Supporting Florida K-3 Classroom Ban on Discussing Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity

Paxton is the latest Texas official to wade into the fight over Florida’s law prohibiting the material in kindergarten through third grade.
January 5, 2023
Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Thursday he had filed an amicus brief in support of a Florida law that prohibits teaching “so-called sexual orientation and gender identity” to students in kindergarten through third grade.

Florida House Bill (HB) 1557, also known as the Parental Rights in Education Act — maligned as the “Don’t Say Gay” law by opponents and some in the media — “prohibits classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in certain grade levels” and “requires such procedures to reinforce fundamental right of parents to make decisions regarding upbringing & control of their children,” per the Florida Senate.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on March 28, 2022 after it passed both chambers of the Florida Legislature.

Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke impugned the law during his gubernatorial campaign last year.

A brief of amicus curiae can be submitted by one who is not party to a court case but is interested in influencing the outcome.

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Paxton submitted his brief on December 7, 2022, joined by 13 other states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Equality Florida, which describes itself as “the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community,” sued DeSantis and the Florida State Board of Education in a complaint filed on March 31, 2022, just days after the law went into effect.

“This effort to control young minds through state censorship — and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality — is a grave abuse of power,” the organization wrote in its complaint.

“The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that LGBTQ people and families are at home in our constitutional order. The State of Florida has no right to declare them outcasts, or to treat their allies as outlaws, by punishing schools where someone dares to affirm their identity and dignity.”

Equality Florida further characterized the law as “clearly the product of animus towards Florida’s LGBTQ community.”

In his amicus brief, Paxton wrote, “A growing contingent of teachers and school administrators are promoting sexual content to children and encouraging them to hide it from their parents. Some educators even solicit these discussions with students while promising that parents will be kept in the dark.”

“As a result, many state legislatures have clarified that when it comes to sex education, parents — not school districts — are in charge.”

He later wrote, in response to claims of violation of free speech, “The other courts of appeals have likewise determined that teachers do not possess a sweeping First Amendment veto over a State’s or school’s mandatory curriculum.”

Paxton’s press release emphasizes the “constitutionality, legality, and importance” of HB 1557.

“Legislation that addresses community standards is especially important at a time when elements of the left are fighting to have drag queen shows in elementary schools, parents restricted from involvement in the students’ lives, and woke sexuality instruction for students everywhere.”

On Tuesday, Texas Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed HB 1155, which is similar to the Florida law except that it would reach all the way through eighth grade.

A copy of Paxton’s amicus brief can be found below.


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Rob Laucius

Rob Laucius is the Assistant Editor of The Texan. He graduated summa cum laude from Hillsdale College in 2022 with his Bachelor’s in History, and has interned for the U.S. House of Representatives and Veterans Administration. In his free time, he continues to read and write.