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Read: lawsuit against Palm Beach school board and others challenges constitutionality of HB 1557

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South Florida Sun Sentinel
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The School District of Palm Beach County has been directing teachers to remove books from classroom libraries for further review, in response to House Bill 1557. Now an LGBTQ legal organization has filed suit against the Palm Beach school board and three others, challenging the constitutionality of the law.

An LGBTQ civil rights organization is suing the Palm Beach County school board and the boards of three other Florida school districts challenging the constitutionality of House Bill 1557, which restricts classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Lambda Legal, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Southern Legal Counsel and private attorneys filed the federal lawsuit this week on behalf of students, parents and a non-profit organization, arguing that the law violates First Amendment rights to free speech and Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

In addition to the Palm Beach County school board, defendants in the lawsuit include the school boards of Duval, Indian River and Orange Counties.

“The purpose and effect of this breathtakingly broad law is to silence LGBTQ+ students and families, and the law’s imprecision intensifies its chilling effect," Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kell Olson said in a written statement. "Because the law invites any parent dissatisfied with a school’s censorship of LGBTQ-related speech to sue the school district and collect attorney fees, it causes schools to aggressively control discussions that might trigger the type of moral objection that gave rise to this law."

The measure, which critics have labeled “don’t say gay,” has sparked a nationwide outcry for banning classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation in kindergarten through third grade — and in all grades, if it’s not considered age or developmentally appropriate. The law also empowers parents to sue districts if they feel schools aren’t complying.

WLRN previously reported that the School District of Palm Beach County directed teachers to remove books from classroom libraries for further review in response to the legislation, which went into effect on July 1. The district has also pulled its LGBTQ+ Critical Support Guide from its website.

In response to a request for comment, an SDPBC spokesperson said, "While the School District of Palm Beach County will not comment on pending litigation, we look forward to all facts in this matter being presented."

Kate Payne is WLRN's education reporter