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A Florida Teacher Felt She Had To Quit Amid “Don’t Say Gay” Rhetoric

Nicolette Solomon felt her mother’s words come through the phone and settle, heavy, in her stomach.

It was January, and her mother was talking about a new bill, just proposed in the Florida legislature, that would severely limit how teachers could discuss gender identity and sexual orientation with their students. Critics were already calling it the “don’t say gay” bill. Her mother, a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights, sounded upset.

Solomon stood listening inside her fourth-grade classroom at Key Biscayne K-8 Center, part of Miami-Dade County Public Schools. The kids were at lunch. She glanced around at the neatly labeled black buckets of supplies, pictures of former students and a small sign reading, “If you can’t be kind, be quiet.” She looked down at the diamond wedding ring she had worn since marrying her wife, Hayley Solomon, in Coconut Grove almost exactly four years ago.

She wondered: Could she be herself, and stay a teacher in Florida?

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