TikTok and adult performances targeted in Florida schools
Orlando Sentinel | By Ryan Dailey | June 27, 2023
TALLAHASSEE — The state Department of Education on Tuesday released a series of proposed rules that would outline restrictions on “adult live performances” at field trips, prohibit school districts from using the social-media app TikTok and allow parents to control “any deviation from their child’s legal name” in schools.
Some of the proposed rules stem from controversial new state laws set to go into effect Saturday.
The proposal dealing with adult live performances was spurred by a law (SB 1438) aimed at blocking children from attending drag shows.
Gov. Ron DeSantis touted the change in a May 17 press release announcing the signing of the live performance bill and other measures.
“Florida is proud to lead the way in standing up for our children,” DeSantis said in the release. “As the world goes mad, Florida represents a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy.”
The proposed rule puts guidelines on “school-sponsored events or activities,” which include things such as field trips and extracurricular activities. The proposal includes provisions that would bar districts from admitting “a child to an adult live performance” and prevent such performances from being held in buildings or properties owned or leased by districts.
The proposed regulation seeks to bolster procedures related to how parents are notified about field trips and other activities.
The proposal would require that parents are provided with permission forms that spell out details such as “the nature of the event” or activity, specific locations and types of sponsors and guests that would be present, and the method of student supervision provided, including the anticipated number of chaperones.
Democrats and other critics of the law targeting drag performances decried it as part of a slate of legislation that targets LGBTQ Floridians.
Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, issued a statement blasting the measure on the day DeSantis signed it.
“These continued attacks on the LGBTQ community and young people are at the center of DeSantis’ misplaced priorities and wildly out of step with where Floridians actually are on these issues,” Jones said at the time.
Another proposed rule teed up by the education department would put in place requirements for internet safety policies that school districts will have to adopt.
The policies would apply to students’ internet use on devices owned by districts, and on devices owned by students when connected to internet provided by schools.
In part, districts’ guidelines would have to prohibit students from “accessing social media platforms, except when expressly directed by a teacher for an educational purpose.”
The proposed rule also specifically targets the popular social-media app TikTok. DeSantis and other state leaders have taken steps to curtail the use of TikTok in government facilities.
Under the proposal, using TikTok would be prohibited on district devices or over schools’ internet and the app also could not be “used to communicate or promote any school district, school, school-sponsored club, extracurricular organization, or athletic team.”
The proposal comes after DeSantis in May signed a measure (HB 379) that, in part, sought to ban the use of the TikTok app on school grounds.
A third rule that seeks to “ensure the use of the child’s legal name in school or a parent-approved nickname” was among the slate of proposals published by the education department Tuesday.
The proposal would amend an existing rule related to student records by adding a provision that would require school boards to adopt policies “for parents to specify the use of any deviation from their child’s legal name in school.”
“School districts will develop a form to obtain parental consent along with any required documentation, as appropriate,” a draft of the proposed change says.
A description of the potential rule said it is intended to strengthen the rights of parents.
“This rule will ensure full transparency to enhance the student’s record and protect parental rights,” a notice of the proposal said.
Hearings to discuss the proposed rules are scheduled for July 19 in Orlando.