Transgender rights activist waves a transgender flag. REUTERS/Demetrius Freeman

Three teachers in Florida on Wednesday sued the state over its law that bans transgender and non-binary teachers from using their preferred pronouns at school, saying it violates their constitutional rights.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Florida's capital, Tallahassee, says the state law was designed “to stigmatize and demonize transgender and non-binary people” and deprives them of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

The state law, which took effect in July, says school officials cannot tell students to call them by their preferred titles or pronouns if the preference does not match the sex assigned at birth.

Several other states have passed laws that state teachers and colleagues do not need to refer to students by their preferred pronouns.

READ: 'Don't say gay:' Sex education fuels US culture wars

One plaintiff, identified as AV Schwandes, said they are non-binary and were fired from a job teaching at a “virtual school” in October for continuing to use the honorific “Mx.” At work. The other plaintiffs are transgender women who say they were forced to accept gender-based abuse.

“Florida intentionally sends the false, invidious, state-sanctioned message that trans and non-binary people and their identities are inherently dangerous, especially to children,” wrote lawyers for the professors at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group , in the lawsuit.

The Florida Attorney General's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case is the latest to challenge laws adopted by Florida and other Republican-led states that aim to limit discussions about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools. Critics call them “don’t say gay” laws and say they are illegal and harmful to LGBT people.

In April, Florida education officials voted to ban classroom teaching on these topics in all grades in public schools, after state lawmakers in 2022 banned it through third grade.

In August, a federal judge rejected a challenge to that law, and an appeal was put on hold after the state and the students and parents who sued said they were negotiating a settlement.


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Last month, civil rights groups sued to block a similar Iowa law covering kindergarten through sixth grade.



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