The Alabama Board of Education (BOE) voted Thursday to adopt rules prohibiting the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in specific classrooms.

The meeting was presided over by Gov. Kay Ivey, with all other members of the BOE present as well.

The BOE issued a rule related to legislation passed in April that prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms where it is not “age appropriate.”

“An individual or group of individuals providing classroom instruction to students in kindergarten through the fifth grade in a public K-12 school shall not engage in classroom discussion or provide classroom instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards,” the rule reads.

The new rules also allow for disciplinary action against teachers who violate the law. Any teacher who violates this could be subject to termination, license revocation, being placed on leave or not having their contract renewed.

Teachers who receive disciplinary action must be reported to the State Superintendent of Education.

The rule was opposed by several educators who spoke at the public hearing portion of the meeting.

“I am here to tell you guys something that, as educators, you should already know:  criminalizing a robust discussion – age appropriate – but robust discussion about very important topics like sexuality, race, forcing your educators to sell lies to children in the form of half-truths, is poisoning our communities, it’s continuously dividing us on a topic that you all claim an interest on, a Christian interest,” said Dana Pigg, a Tuscaloosa educator. “There is nothing Christian about criminalizing education.”

Another educator, Rachel Mobley, said that the language in the rules that stipulate punishment is too subjective.

“The consequences listed in the rule are too severe to allow for anything other than perfect clarity,” Mobley said. “If left unrevised, an aggressive parent complaint could result in an invaluable teacher’s or counselor’s termination and loss of certification.”

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