St. Johns County

St. Johns teacher made to remove ‘Protect Trans Kids’ t-shirt

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — A teacher a Tocoi Creek High School was asked to change out of their “Protect Trans Kids” shirt because the St. Johns County School District said the shirt violated district policy.

The school district told us the shirt was worn in opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill, which had just been signed into law by Gov. DeSantis and therefore violated its prohibition on teachers engaging in political activity on the job.

STORY: Florida universities and colleges are asking students and staff whether their campuses are political

St. Johns County School District said the image of the teacher wearing a “Protect Trans Kids” T-shirt was sent to the principal by a concerned parent last Tuesday.

Upon receiving the image, the teacher was asked to change, and no further disciplinary action was taken.

Rebekah Weissert, whose son attends the high school, believes the school did the right thing.

“I think teachers should teach the subjects and not be activists in either direction,” said Weissert.

The district told us the shirt was worn in direct protest of the new Florida law prohibiting instruction sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3, and requiring the instruction be age-appropriate thereafter.

District policy prohibits employees from wearing clothing with political logos.

Brandon Wolf with Equality Florida, which is suing the state to block the new law, argued there is nothing political about protecting trans kids.

“Saying out loud that we need to do more to protect those young people who are at higher risk of virtually every poor outcome in terms of physical and mental health is not a political statement,” said Wolf.

Wolf argued stifling discussion about LGBTQ people is not an unintended consequence of the new law, but a feature.

“There are teachers who are concerned about whether or not they’ll even be able to continue to do their jobs because a picture of their partner on the desk may invoke a lawsuit from an angry parent. So those chilling effects are already happening across the state and that’s the point,” said Wolf.

STORY: Wolfson Children’s Hospital opens new Borowy Family Children’s Critical Care Tower

But for parents like Weissert, they’d rather see teachers stick to teaching math and reading.

“I agree that kindergarten through third grade shouldn’t really be talked to about sexual things, because they should be playing and doing other things. It’s just too early,” said Weissert.

We reached out to the teacher directly to ask why they wore the shirt that particular day.

We were simply told, “no comment.”

The principal of the school also declined an interview.