Florida teachers sue over law banning use of preferred pronouns | Inquirer News

Florida teachers sue over law banning use of preferred pronouns

/ 06:50 AM December 14, 2023

Teachers sue over Florida law banning use of preferred pronouns

Transgender rights activist waves a transgender flag. REUTERS/Demetrius Freeman

Three teachers in Florida on Wednesday sued the state over its law prohibiting transgender and nonbinary teachers from using their preferred pronouns in school, saying it violates their constitutional rights.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, says the state law is designed “to stigmatize and demonize transgender and nonbinary people” and deprives them of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the US Constitution.


The state law, which took effect in July, says school employees cannot tell students to call the employees by their preferred titles or pronouns if the preference does not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.


Several other states have passed laws saying teachers and classmates do not have to refer to students by their preferred pronouns.

READ: ‘Don’t say gay:’ Sex education fuels US culture wars

One plaintiff, identified as AV Schwandes, said they are non-binary and were fired from a teaching job at a “virtual school” in October for continuing to use the honorific “Mx.” at work. The other plaintiffs are transgender women who say they have been forced to accept being misgendered.

“Florida intentionally sends the state-sanctioned, invidious, and false message that transgender and nonbinary people and their identities are inherently dangerous, especially to children,” the teachers’ lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group, wrote in the lawsuit.

The Florida Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is the latest to challenge laws adopted by Florida and other Republican-led U.S. states aimed at limiting discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. Critics call them “don’t say gay” laws and claim they are unlawful and harmful to LGBT people.


In April, Florida education officials voted to ban classroom instruction on those topics in all public school grades after state lawmakers in 2022 barred it through third grade.

A federal judge in August dismissed a challenge to that law, and an appeal has been put on hold after the state and the students and parents who sued said they were negotiating a settlement.

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Last month, civil rights groups sued to block a similar Iowa law that covers kindergarten through sixth grade.

TAGS: gender, lawsuit, LGBT, nonbinary, transgender, United States

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