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New law has school librarians moving 'handful' of books from one section to another

School board salaries and library books on the line, Feb. 1, 2022. (WPEC file)
School board salaries and library books on the line, Feb. 1, 2022. (WPEC file)
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The School District of Palm Beach County is going to let its students be called by their preferred names, a move supported by the LGBTQ community. But with school starting in eight days, a handful of books will be moved out of reach of kindergarten to third graders in response to the Parental Rights in Education Act. That’s the law critics call "Don’t Say Gay."

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“For a parent or guardian, any name that’s outside of the student’s first name that your child prefers to be called, we want you to put that in the preferred name box [of the registration form], said Keith Oswald, who oversees equity in the district. "It’s an important step as we affirm our students,” he said Monday at a news conference.

LBGTQ advocate Michael Riordan, from the Compass Center in Lake Worth Beach, applauded the district.

“When any organization recognizes people and their identity, it’s affirmation that they’re seen, that they’re respected, that they’re in a safe place,” she said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to fight what he calls “woke gender ideology” in classrooms and corporations. The new school law he pushed for bans teaching sexual orientation and gender identity from kindergarten through third grade.

“When [the legislature was] doing the Parent’s Rights in Education [Act], some people were trying to say this isn’t in the elementary schools, no one’s doing that, you guys are just doing that. In reality, you’ve seen Los Angeles put that out, New Jersey, and basically this will be for elementary kids where you’re instructed to tell them, well you may have been born a boy, that may have been what you said, maybe you’re really a girl. That’s wrong,” DeSantis said last month.

CBS12 News reporter Andrew Lofholm asked Palm Beach school superintendent Mike Burke about the law's impact on what’s actually going to be taught.

“Not really curriculum, no,” Burke said.

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Deputy superintendent Ed Tierney said the district is following the law.

“We’ve reviewed almost countless books in the media center in compliance, there as well, there are just a small handful of books being moved to an intermediate section of some of the libraries,” he said.

Riordan says the governor’s agenda is hurtful.

“Laws like ‘Don’t Say Gay’ and the 'Stop WOKE Act' are designed to do one thing and that’s to create stigma at a specific population. These are not laws meant to protect people, they are sealing people out,” she said.

The superintendent said the law has made some teachers nervous, because it lets parents sue teachers if the parent thinks they’re breaking the rules.

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