Watch: Florida Art Teacher Fired after Students Draw Pride Flags, Ask Her About Sexuality

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday May 6, 2022

A Florida art teacher was fired after students in her class drew Pride flags and asked her about her sexuality. The dismissal happened just days before the state's "Don't Say Gay" bill was signed into law, news channel WPTV reported.

Casey Scott, "an art teacher at Trafalgar Middle School in Cape Coral" was fired after "some students began drawing pictures of LGBTQ+ flags and claimed to be either non-binary, bisexual or gay," the news station detailed. "Then they asked about her."

Scott answered the question and then posted the students' drawings on the wall — only to be warned by school staffers that "it would be in the best interest if I just get rid of them now," she told the news station.

Scott says she took the warning to heart.

"I went over to the recycling bin, I grabbed all of their flags and all the kids were staring at me, and I crumbled their flags in front of them," the teacher, who is married to a man and says that she is pansexual, recounted.

As harsh a demonstration as this was to the LGBTQ+ students in the class, worse was to come: Scott says she was "sent home," where, a short time later, she received a phone call letting her know she had been fired.

"Her dismissal came days before the Parental Rights in Education bill was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis," the news report noted. "Known by critics as the 'Don't Say Gay' law, it forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade."

That's not all that the law criminalizes. It also forbids classroom discussion of LGBTQ+ issues "in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards." Advocates for LGBTQ+ youth worry that the law's vague wording, and its encouragement of lawsuits against schools and teachers, will have the inevitable effect of intimidating school staff into silencing students who may already be marginalized, Newsweek noted.

Some of those students were in Scott's classroom that day, she told the media.

"A lot of the kids came up to me and said 'I'm non-binary' and a couple kids said 'I'm bi' and one kid said they were gay," Scott told NBC 2.

The lesson those students are taking home with them? If advocates' fears reflect reality, it's that they won't be allowed to express who they are while in the classroom.

That's the lesson school staffers are also processing. Kevin Daly of the Teachers Union of Lee County explained to NBC 2 that Scott's firing was legal because she was still in a probationary period during which termination for any reason can take place (Daly said Scott was not a member of that union).

But the "Don't Say Gay" law can be intimidating even for veteran teachers, Daly explained, telling NBC: "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."

Watch the NBC 2 news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.