A Florida teacher shared anxieties with MSNBC Tuesday that he won’t be able to talk about his love life with his kindergarten students anymore due to HB 1557.
Kindergarten teacher Cory Bernaert reacted Tuesday to news that Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had signed legislation banning classroom discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity for Kindergarten through 3rd grade (ages 5-9).
“It hits hard in my heart professionally and personally,” he said. “Professionally it truly makes me feel like I am not trusted as a professional. I know my kindergarten standards through and through and nowhere in our curriculum does it have anything about teaching sexual orientation or sexual identity.”
“We should be able to have discussions and that’s what we’re encouraged to do in kindergarten,” he said. “My kids do have questions. They want to know who my partner is in pictures outside of my classroom, and I should be able to speak to them.”
“Do you worry that you won’t event be able to talk about your own personal home life?” questioned the MSNBC host, noting that she knows all about her children’s teachers and their home lives.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You are 100% correct. That’s what we do as educators, we build relationships with our kids. And in order to build relationships, you talk about your home life, you talk about what you do on the weekends.”
“It scares me that I am not going to be able to have these conversations with my children,” he continued, “because they’re going to ask me what I did on the weekend. I don’t want to have to hide that my partner and I went paddle boarding this weekend.”
The children will ask him, “what does partner mean, Mr. Bernaert?” the teacher said, questioning, “Can I tell them what it means?”
He also worried about a potential situation in which children will ask him about one of his kindergarten students, who he said has two moms.
“If they go to her and ask her about her two moms and she doesn’t know what to say, they’re going to come to me and ask me,” he said.
Florida’s HB 1447 states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
The bill has been wildly misrepresented as “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, though nowhere in the legislation is the word “gay” mentioned.
The word “parent” is mentioned 32 times, the word “parental” is mentioned eight times, and the legislation heavily focuses on parental notification and parental awareness of what children are being taught or exposed to in school.