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Say gay, Florida. DeSantis’ homophobic law gets a much-needed clarification | Opinion

Take a victory lap, Floridians.

For a change, good news on the culture wars front arrives in Florida by way of successful activism, a less sycophantic Legislature — and a significant court settlement reached in a constitutional challenge to the state’s “Don’t Say Gay law.”

Students and teachers will be able to discuss LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom — as long as it’s not in the lesson plans. New, detailed guidelines from the state Department of Education about what can and can’t be said regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are supposed to be coming soon to school districts.

One can only hope these spelled-out rules focus on helping kids understand — and respect — all kinds of families that aren’t going away just because religious zealots desire it. And that they leave out the political hysterics of past years.

In other words, the rules need to be useful.

In addition to the court settlement, there were positive developments in the Legislature: Harmful censorship and rights bills infringing on free speech and a free press, and to ban abortion in the state, were left to die on the floor or in committees.

To save face and ego, the discriminatory “Don’t say gay” law’s chief instigator, Gov. Ron DeSantis, claimed the settlement as a victory over “activists and extremists.” As if we’re all blind to the fact that the activists at work spinning rage-provoking misinformation were, among right-wingers, the Moms for Liberty he heralded, a group now losing ground here and all over the country.

As for the state’s chief extremist, it’s DeSantis himself.

It bears repeating: Gender identity and sexual orientation was never part of the curriculum in kindergarten through third grade in Florida. As the legal challenge made clear, the overblown outrage created by falsehoods and exaggerations about “pornographic” books available to children was circulated by Republicans to set the stage to pass legislation.

They used the first ban on elementary school-aged kids as the conduit to extend anti-gay laws to prohibit the free speech of mature high school students. The courts saw that for what it was: an attempt to send back to the closet an entire community by silencing it.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law will be clarified after Florida settles lawsuit. Here’s what’s allowed

Didn’t ‘stay the course’

Voters are tired of dogmatic hogwash hijacking educational institutions.

From the offensively watered-down teaching of Black history to the redefinition of subjects areas like civics — only patriotism allowed — plus, the more recent attempt to wipe out sociology the way diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs were, all these initiatives have brought negative, world-wide attention to Florida.

To add insult to the injury, the free-speech restrictions in public education are happening at a time when a voucher system allows parents to afford whatever private education they choose for their children. But it’s never enough. Republicans want to impose conservative ideology on the rest of us.

“Stay the course,” a buoyant DeSantis urged legislators on the winter session’s opening day.

Some eager-beaver legislators heard him. But key players like Senate President Kathleen Passidomo of Naples and House Speaker Paul Renner of Palm Harbor didn’t follow his mandates this time like bobble-heads.

READ MORE: Poetic justice: A woman’s political fortitude kills DeSantis’ anti-woke junk bills | Opinion

Perhaps they took their cues from Iowa caucus results: DeSantis pitched his “Make America Florida” — and got a no, thanks.

Travel outside of this brainwashed state, talk to people, and realize that all the political reshaping of a sacred realm that belongs only to educators has diminished the value of a Florida education.

Regardless of party, that’s a loss for all.