In the wake of the state’s strenuous laws on education, parents in one school system are now required to give their consent for their children to learn about the month-long celebration, which has been federally recognized since 1976.
According to Miami ABC affiliate WPLG, parents of students at IPrep Academy were asked to sign permission slips in order for their children to participate in Black History Month “class and school wide presentations showcasing the achievements and recognizing the rich and diverse traditions, histories, and innumerable contributions of the Black communities.”
If parents do not sign the forms, students do not learn about Black History Month.WPLG reports that an extension was added to the bill in November, which expanded parental rights in education whenever outside presenters come to instruct on school property.
“I was shocked,” IPrep parent Jill Peeling told WPLG, explaining that she thought that maybe she misunderstood the purpose of the form. “It’s a step too far. This is Black History Month. This is supposed to be a celebration.”
Miami-Dade School Board member Steve Gallon told the outlet that the new rule is an addition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which was initially signed into law in March 2022. The law, infamously known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, bars “classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.”
In 2022, the Miami-Dade School Board held a contentious meeting where members voted against recognizing October as LGBTQ+ History Month. At the time University of Miami professor Alberto Cairo said the vote was an effort to “distort” the truth, like the whitewashing of Black and Jewish American history. The board voted against the LGBTQ+ celebration again in 2023.
In an email to The Daily Beast, Florida Department of Education Press Secretary Nathalia Medina said the whole idea about parents having to sign permission slips is “absolutely false” and a “media-driven lie.”
Medina also forwarded a statement from Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ social studies webpage.
“The overarching goal of social studies instruction is to prepare students to be knowledgeable, informed, and active citizens in an increasingly diverse community and nation and interdependent world. Social Studies programs exist to promote civic competence and ensure that the values and ideals that have shaped our democratic republic continue to be instilled in our youth,” the website read.
“Miami-Dade County Public Schools fully supports the teaching of African American history, which is required by the State of Florida, throughout the school year. Our schools do not need permission slips to teach African American history.”
In May, Miami-Dade Public Schools came under fire for having parents sign release forms for their children to participate in district-sponsored book fairs, the Miami Herald reported. Children could not attend book fairs if their parents didn’t sign the permission slips, which also stated that parents couldn’t hold the district accountable if their children were to choose books the parents didn’t like.
“My first thought was disappointment. Not for my child, but for this community,” parent Brooke Sussman told the Miami Herald.
Outlet WPLG said the issue regarding Black History Month and permission slips will be brought up during a committee hearing on Wednesday.
IPrep Academy did not immediately return The Daily Beast’s request for comment Tuesday.