High Schoolers In Florida Must Have Parental Permission to Watch Disney Movie

A Central Florida high school mandated that parents sign a permission slip for students to watch a Disney film, sparking concerns about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ education policies.

Consent for Disney Film Viewing

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Last week, sophomore students at Boone High School organized a “Rom-com movie night” on the football field after classes. The choice was “Tangled,” a PG-rated animated film. 

New Hurdles for School Events

Florida Governor and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis speaks at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa, on January 13, 2024. (Photo by Christian MONTERROSA / AFP)
Image by Christian MONTERROSA / AFP

While it was a typical school event in the past, DeSantis’ new Parental Rights in Education law has added bureaucratic hurdles. 

Now, parents must complete a permission slip for any school-sponsored activity.

Parents Overwhelmed

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WFTV heard from some parents that the increasing number of permission slips is starting to feel like a burden.

“I had to sign a permission slip for my child who could drive himself to see it in a movie theater,” Judi Hayes expressed to the outlet. 

Permission Slip Fatigue

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Hayes, along with other parents, mentioned that they’re required to sign a fresh permission slip for after-school programs and events nearly every week. 

An Overwhelming Task

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“It seems like it’s just it’s out of control. It’s every single activity. And it’s burdensome on the staff because they have to chase down permission slips. The club’s sponsors are getting frustrated and giving up because it’s too much work,” Hayes shared.  

Law Affects Tutoring

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Hayes further mentioned that she had to sign a form for her child to receive pre-calculus tutoring with their teacher after school. The teacher cited the Parental Rights in Education law in notes to parents, explaining the need for permission slips. 

A Proposed Solution

school, teaching, learning
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Some parents have suggested signing a single permission slip at the start of the year rather than dealing with dozens over several months. 

However, the law mandates that parents and guardians must be informed beforehand about any school-sponsored activities, whether before, during, or after school. 

Controversial Education Law

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In March 2022, the Republican-led Florida Senate approved the Parental Rights in Education law —known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill— that restricts discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity in elementary schools. 

National Backlash

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Facing strong opposition from national Democrats, Florida students, LGBTQ advocates, and the White House, the bill seeks to enhance parental influence in public school education.

Under this bill, parents can take legal action against school districts that do not comply with its provisions.

LGBTQ Concerns

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Critics, labeling it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, argue that it prohibits discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity up to the third grade, potentially sidelining LGBTQ students. 

Ambiguities in Bill

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The bill in question bill has generated considerable debate due to its ambiguous language. The critical section of the bill states:

“A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” 

Clarity Issues

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The text does not clearly define what constitutes “age-appropriate” or “developmentally appropriate” discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity. 

This lack of clarity has led to different interpretations and concerns about how the bill would be implemented in practice.

Bill’s Intent

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The bill’s proponents, including its sponsors Rep. Joe Harding and Sen. Dennis Baxley, argue that the bill’s purpose is to prevent the premature introduction of topics related to gender and sexual orientation in school curricula. 

According to them, the bill aims to serve as a safeguard against discussing these topics with children who are not yet mature enough to understand them fully.

Still Problematic 

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The vagueness of the bill’s language means that its practical implications are not straightforward. It could potentially lead to a wide range of interpretations by school districts, educators, and parents, regarding what kind of discussions are permissible in primary grade classrooms. 

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