A Florida middle school teacher is claiming that she was fired in March for discussing sexuality with her students.
Casey Scott, a first-year art teacher, told NBC affiliate WBBH-TV on Tuesday that the events that led to her termination started when students began asking questions about her sexuality. Scott, who is married to a man, said she told her students that she is pansexual, meaning that she’s attracted to all genders.
She said LGBTQ students then began asking if they could create art expressing their own sexualities and identities, and that she hung it on her classroom door. Scott said she was told by school officials in Lee County — which is roughly 40 miles north of Naples — to remove the artwork. She said she was then sent home and fired over the phone.
“A discussion happened in class and because of that, now I’m fired,” Scott told WBBH-TV.
The Lee County School District said in a statement to NBC News that Scott was fired because she “did not follow the state mandated curriculum.” The district also shared complaints from parents who were concerned about the conversation and the artwork, according to the NBC affiliate.
Scott’s firing comes amid a nationwide discussion over whether LGBTQ issues or identities should be discussed at school.
The debate was ignited earlier this year by the newly enacted Florida law, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Officially titled the Parental Rights in Education bill, the legislation bans teaching about 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 accordance with state standards.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law in late March, several days after Scott’s firing. The law takes effect in July.
Proponents of the measure have contended that it gives parents more discretion over what their children learn in school and say LGBTQ issues are “not age-appropriate” for young students.
Kevin Daly, who is the president-elect of the Teachers Association of Lee County, told WBBH-TV that the new bill could pose problems for educators and suggested it led to Scott’s firing.
“There is kind of a heightened state of where is the boundary? And what are employees supposed to do? Or allowed to do, when a topic comes up in discussion,” he said.
LGBTQ teachers in Florida have previously told NBC News that they fear talking about their families or LGBTQ issues more broadly with the new law in place.
Beyond Florida, 19 other states have introduced similar legislation this year that would prohibit how educators can talk about or teach LGBTQ issues in school, according to the Movement Advancement Project, or MAP, an LGBTQ think tank that has been tracking the bills.