Florida School Requires Permission Slip for Kids to Participate in Black History Month Events, Citing Ron DeSantis’s “Parents’ Bill of Rights”

When he wasn’t trying (and spectacularly failing) to win the GOP nomination for president, Ron DeSantis spent much of his time over the last several years terrorizing the public-education community under the guise of giving parents a say in what their kids learn in school. That’s meant, among other things: banning the mention of gender identity and sexual orientation in grades kindergarten through 12th; banning AP African American studies; and banning instruction that could make white people feel bad. Such legislation has led to schools going to ridiculous lengths to not run afoul of the state’s new rules, as was apparently the case at a Miami school that felt the need to get parental permission for students to celebrate Black History Month.

WPLG reports that iPrep Academy—a public school in Miami—has asked parents to “sign off on whether they want their children to participate in some of the educational events” connected to Black History Month. The form requires permission for kids to participate in “…class and school-wide presentations showcasing the achievements and recognizing the rich and diverse traditions, histories, and innumerable contributions of the Black communities.” Jill Peeling, a parent at the school, told WPLG she was “shocked” and “concerned as a citizen,” adding that she initially thought she must have misunderstood what the school was asking, i.e., there’s no way they could be asking for parental consent for participation in Black History Month.

Making it clear that this all stems from DeSantis’s dystopian laws, Miami-Dade Public Schools board member Steve Gallon told WPLG, “This is a policy that’s an extension of a new state board rule…. We have to follow the law,” he said, referring to Florida’s “Parents’ Bill of Rights,” which has been expanded since DeSantis signed it in 2022. “We have to implement the rules that are adopted by the State Board of Education, but we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we have to square some obligations we have to academic freedom.” Noting how deeply creepy and messed up all of this is, Peeling said, “Something feels very off here, and the fact that the school needs to cover themselves against the state feels even worse.”

In a statement to Business Insider, Florida’s Department of Education claimed, “Any insinuation that students need permission to study African American history is absolutely false,” and said the story is a “media-driven lie.”

Marvin Dunn, a professor at Florida International University, told WPLG all of this will lead to a worrisome situation where some people will not be adequately educated about Black history. “When parents become involved in making that decision, keeping some kids out, some kids in, you have unequal learning,” he said. He also noted that all of this is by design: “The intent of the DeSantis attack on education is to make schools more cautious, to make teachers more cautious about what they teach, and it’s working,” he said. “It’s not about banning books necessarily, it’s about banning ideas.”