Two teachers in Palm Beach County said they are ready to leave the state after the “Don’t Say Gay” bill was passed and made stronger.
Micah Desiante said, “In Palm Beach County, I feel fine and generally safe, but it’s still Florida, and the laws still apply here.”
Micah said that he has been a teacher for 24 years, and 14 of those years have been in Palm Beach County.
Desiante changed from a woman to a man in the past year.
“I knew it all along, but it took me a long time to accept it,” Desiante said. “From the kids I’ve taught since August, it’s not a problem because they never get it wrong. If they do, they correct each other.”
Desiante said that a teacher’s pay isn’t enough to cover the cost of living in Florida, and now that the bill has passed, he says this is his last year of teaching in Florida.
“I don’t really feel like I have a choice but to leave if I need to be safe,” Desiante said. “For my mental health, I don’t think I could stay. I don’t think I could be as good of a teacher as I am and as passionate as I am if I constantly watched what I said, second-guessed what I was teaching, and worried that a student might not understand what I was saying.”
He said that new laws were a threat to his identity, so he took a teaching job out of state.
“I can’t help my students, my family, or myself if I’m locked up for saying the wrong thing, beaten up for going to the wrong bathroom, or put in the hospital for having nervous breakdowns because I can’t be myself,” Desiante said.
The bill will stop staff and students from having to use people’s chosen names when they talk about them.
Erin Grall, a Republican senator from Vero Beach, said, “You see society coming at our children in a culture war that has an agenda.”
The bill also says that from kindergarten through eighth grade, no one can teach about gender identity or sexual preference.
The bill was called racist by Democrats who voted for it.
Republicans, on the other hand, think that the strategy protects children.
“We need to make sure that what is being taught in our schools is what needs to be taught. Like math. “I like to read,” said Debbie Mayfield, a Republican senator from Melbourne.
“I’m trans, my students know, and I’m out. What’s going to happen to me?” asked transgender teacher Sean Fowler. “The first round of Don’t Say Gay came out and was signed, and I had stress seizures that put me in the hospital for two weeks.”
Fowler lives in Florida, but he hopes to move to Boston at the end of the school year. He has been a teacher for 8 years.
“I’m at a school that’s very supportive of me, and I want to stay, but the situation has gotten to the point where if I don’t I wonder what would happen if I stayed, what would happen to my safety if I stayed?” Fowler said.
The bill is set to become law on July 1 after Gov. Ron DeSantis signs it.