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Court overturns large part of Florida's so-called 'don't say gay' law

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Starting today, students and teachers in Florida schools can say gay. That is because of a court settlement that overturned a large part of Florida's Parental Rights in Education Law. Danielle Prieur with member station WMFE in Orlando reports.

DANIELLE PRIEUR, BYLINE: This morning was full of excitement in the home of Amy Morrison and Cecile Houry. Their two children, ages 7 and 10, had a lot to say about the settlement their parents were part of, says Morrison.

AMY MORRISON: My kid has been very excited that he says, Mommy, we won. We finally - we won. It matters. It matters what we did. He said, but can I say gay at school?

PRIEUR: The two moms were plaintiffs in the case that challenged the 2022 Parental Rights in Education Law. The settlement makes it clear that kids and teachers can write and speak about gender identity and sexuality in class discussion and assignments. It also reinstates gay-straight alliances and other programs, something their lawyer, Robbie Kaplan, says had been canceled under the law.

ROBBIE KAPLAN: That is now completely and clearly off the table. And anyone who tries to use the law to do any of those things, the state of Florida has said as clearly as it possibly can in a memo that went to all school boards - if not yesterday, today - saying that is not OK.

PRIEUR: What's still left in the law is a prohibition of classroom lessons around gender identity and sexual orientation. And that's why Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is also celebrating the settlement. In a statement, he says it's a win for the state and that, quote, "the mutually agreed settlement ensures that the law will remain in effect." While it's not a total win, plaintiff Houry says she hopes their success in gutting much of the law is an inspiration.

CECILE HOURY: Because now that says, OK, well, maybe you can stand up, too, in another place to also challenge what's going on in your state - OK? - 'cause we did it, and we got some change.

PRIEUR: Advocacy groups have been celebrating the settlement as a sign that anti-LGBTQ laws passed in state legislatures are starting to collapse as they're tested in the courts. For NPR News, I'm Danielle Prieur in Orlando.

(SOUNDBITE OF POST MALONE SONG, "SOCIALITE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Danielle Prieur