GOP rep calls transgender people ‘mutants, demons and imps’ during a bill hearing, rezoning fight and more

In the Legislature: A Republican member of the House called transgender Floridians “mutants from another planet” during a committee hearing Monday. After several transgender people spoke against H.B. 1521, which would prevent students and others from using bathrooms that don’t align with their gender assignment at birth, state Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, launched into a tirade against them. “The Lord rebuke you, Satan, and all of your demons and all of your imps who come parade before us,” he said. “That’s right, I called you demons and imps who come and parade before us and pretend that you are part of this world.” A few minutes later, after the committee moved on to a different bill, Barnaby offered an apology. “I would like to apologize to the trans community for referring to you as demons,” he said. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Tampa Bay Times. A bill that would bar businesses, schools and other government agencies from requiring people to take COVID-19 tests or wear masks to enter their facilities was approved Monday by the House Health & Human Services Committee. News Service of Florida. Politico Florida. Florida Phoenix.

Around the state: Coral Springs city commissioners angry that the Broward school district rezoned city students out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say they want to go “scorch earth” in their response, St. Lucie school board members are expected to vote today on removing 16 books from school libraries, the director of New College’s applied data science program calls Gov. Ron DeSantis a “fascist” for his moves to transform the college and said he’s stepping down in August, a Flagler school board member is suggesting that media centers be downsized and that books be brought to students from public libraries by couriers, and school construction projects are moving ahead in Duval, Seminole and Sarasota counties. Here are details about those stories and others from the state’s districts, private schools, and colleges and universities:

Broward, south Florida: A school district plan to zone hundreds of Coral Springs students out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School over the next four years has drawn an angry response from city officials. City commissioners are considering a plan to “revisit” their contract to provide fire and paramedic services to the city of Parkland, may prohibit Stoneman Douglas students from parking at a nearby city park, cut back on allowing the school board to use city sports fields for games, push the school district for reimbursement for school resource officers, and try to get a court injunction to stop the rezoning. “I want to go scorch earth,” said Coral Springs city commissioner Josh Simmons. “We were wronged, point blank, period. We were blindsided, we were played for fools. We were taken advantage of. They took our kindness for weakness. … I don’t want to be the nice guy anymore.” Sun-Sentinel.

Palm Beach: A Pahokee Middle-Senior High School student who was attacked in a hallway last week by two classmates has been arrested and accused of bringing a knife to school. The mother of the 18-year-old said she wasn’t surprised, and that her daughter had the kitchen knife because she was scared and didn’t feel safe at school. WPEC.

Duval: Construction has begun on a middle school on the west side of Jacksonville. Revenues from the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2020 will be used to build Chaffee Trail Middle School, which is expected to cost $38.6 million and be completed by August 2024. WJXT.

Lee: A teacher at Diplomat Middle School in Cape Coral was arrested last week and accused of sending a photo of his genitals to a student. Police said they began an investigation of Joseph Michael Reynolds, 30, after a school resource officer told them of a possible inappropriate relationship between him and a student. A district spokesman said Reynolds has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the district’s investigation. Fort Myers News-Press. WINK. WFTX. WBBH.

Seminole: School officials are spending more than $35 million on seven projects, including a new building at Lawton Elementary School and a renovation of English Estate Elementary School. WFTV. Orlando Business Journal.

Volusia: A New Smyrna Beach Middle School student has been arrested and accused of beating another student at the school. A graphic video of the attack was made and has been widely viewed. It shows a a student pulling another girl to the ground by the hair, punching and stomping her head, and kicking her in the back. WOFL.

Sarasota: School officials will show drawings of a proposed high school to members of the North Port City Commission today. It’s one of two schools the district wants to open in the Wellen Park area by the fall of 2025. The renderings show a a $155 million, 325,000-square-foot high school with a performing arts center, “Innovation Zone” and student union with a “Genius Bar” where students can study and collaborate. It can accommodate up to 2,100 students and will ease overcrowding at Venice High School. Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

St. Lucie: School board members are expected to decide today whether 16 more challenged books will remain on library shelves or be removed. Superintendent Jon Prince has recommended that all 16 remain in libraries, but restricted to upper grade levels. Dale Galiano, who filed the initial challenge last year, said many of the books contain pornographic, bestiality and sexual battery passages, and are inappropriate for children. TCPalm.

Hernando: Three Central High School students who ingested a product at school that includes CBD were hospitalized. School officials said the product, named Delta 8, is apparently legal and was brought to school by another student. WFLA.

Flagler: School board member Sally Hunt suggested last week that school media centers are “huge” and could be downsized and used for other purposes, and also wondered if books could be shipped in to students through courier services from public libraries. “This is just, hey, is there an opportunity for a discussion,” she said. A workshop to discuss her thoughts will be scheduled. Flagler Live.

Colleges and universities: The director of New College’s applied data science program called Gov. Ron DeSantis a fascist in a letter in which he also wrote, “If I were more patriotic, I would burn the college’s buildings to the ground.” Aaron Hillegass, who was hired just before DeSantis began his conservative overhaul of the liberal arts school, later said his remarks were “excessive” and said he will leave the school when his contract ends in August. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. A new docuseries on Hulu called The Lesson is Murder focuses on reviews of three closed murder cases by University of South Florida associate professor of criminology and former FBI agent Bryanna Fox and five graduate students. WUSF.

Around the nation: At least 32 million college and K-12 student records have been breached since 2005 in computer hacks, according to a report in April from Comparitech, a website that reviews and analyzes cybersecurity and online privacy products. The highest number of breaches occurred in 2021, when 2.6 million student records were hacked from 771 institutions. K-12 Dive. Rural Republicans in Texas and Georgia are revolting against school voucher expansions because there aren’t private schools in their areas and they think the initiatives will draw money from the public schools they depend on. New York magazine.

Opinions on schools: People used to like all kinds of weird and antiquated things, but American parents are way past taking whatever commissions choose to give them. School choice advocates should catch up with parents. Otherwise, the movement in many states will remain wrecked. Matthew Ladner, reimaginED. The next few years with universal school choice in Florida will be interesting. At the individual student level, those changes will be for the better, as more families can now afford better education options for their kids. And while public schools may struggle to adapt initially, they’ll ultimately become leaner, more competitive and better able to serve the needs of the kids who most want to be there. Brian Burgess, The Capitolist. Not only do the state’s proposals about sexual education represent a government overreach that lacks consideration for people’s health and wellness, they also show a basic lack of respect and emotional maturity. A head-in-the-sand approach to topics that make us feel uncomfortable does not make them go away. Anindya Kundu, Sun-Sentinel.

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BY NextSteps staff