An openly gay elementary school teacher in Parrish, Florida says the state’s new parental rights law will impact his relationship with his 5-year-old students.
RELATED: Outrage as Florida Gov. DeSantis signs ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” bill into law on Monday, March 28. The legislation, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, bans teaching LGBT+ subjects, including gender identity, to minors ages 5-8.
“It really hits hard in my heart professionally and personally,” Cory Bernaert told MSNBC. “Professionally, it truly makes me feel like I am not trusted as a professional.”
He added that LGBT+ subjects are currently not included in the school’s curriculum.
However, Bernaert says, “We should be able to have discussions, and that’s what we’re encouraged to do in kindergarten.”
He said “my kids do have questions. They wanna know who my partner is in pictures outside of my classroom, and I should be able to speak to that.”
When asked if he worries that he won’t be able to talk about his gay lifestyle with the children, Bernaert said, “Absolute— you are 100% correct. That’s what we do as educators: we build relationships. And in order to build relationships, you talk about your home life. You talk about what you do on the weekends. That’s building community.”
He added: “It scares me to death that I’m not gonna be able to have these conversations with my [students]. ‘Cause they’re gonna ask me what I did on the weekends. I don’t wanna have to hide that my partner and I went paddle boarding this weekend.”
Bernaert said one of his students has two moms. He fears that he won’t be allowed to discuss her 2 moms with the other students as a teachable moment.
“The kids are curious about her two moms. They wanna know about her 2 moms,” he said. “If they go to her and ask her about her 2 moms – and she doesn’t know what to say – they’re gonna come to me.”
The kindergarten teacher said he will follow his 5-year-old students’ “discretion” and “be true and honest with them because it’s who I am.”
Twitter users weighed in on the subject. Some users said a teacher’s job is to educate his students, not socialize with them.
He's not talking about sharing the intimate details of his love life, he's talking about his concern he won't even be able to mention he has a husband in class.
— Will ?? (@terminaIIy_wiII) March 29, 2022
I’m a lesbian and I don’t want any teachers discussing their private life with my kids. I want kids to learn how to read, write, and do math. Whatever teachers are doing on their own time needs to stay out of the classroom. Kids don’t need to validate adults.
— no identity – just a corpse (@IsleLesbos) March 29, 2022
Why can’t this person tell his class “hey I went paddle boarding this wknd” ?
— Namecantbeblank (@Markymania) March 29, 2022
I don’t remember knowing one personal detail of my teachers’ lives. That’s what professionalism was once upon a time.
— A. McN (@annmcnam) March 30, 2022
His fundamental problem is he keeps saying "my kids."
No, they're not "his kids," and his personal life isn't relevant to their instruction of the curriculum. I may be old or something, but my teachers didn't discuss their weekends or relationships with us at all…
— John Lee Pettimore ?????? (@Salty_N_Spicy) March 29, 2022
Never had a teacher growing up who discussed their love lives with the class. Never. It is not necessary and is inappropriate for teachers to detail their personal lives.
— Julie B (@juliesque720) March 29, 2022
teaching isn’t about YOU, bro. it’s about the kids. get over yourself.
— Jessica O’Donnell (@heckyessica) March 29, 2022