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The Leon School Board OK's changes to its LGBTQ guide over concerns it goes too far and not far enough

An illustration of two hands holding a globe with rainbow-colored continents.
Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media

Leon’s School Board has approved a new LGBTQ guide after more than four hours of public comment. LGBTQ students and advocates worry it could lead to schools accidentally outing students to unsupportive parents; parent groups argue the guide doesn’t do enough when it comes to allowing them a say over how the district handles LGBTQ kids.

The Florida Prayer Network’s Pam Olson urged board members to put approval of the guide on hold:

“We need to not do this guide right now, there’s so much wrong with it—with the bathrooms and the overnight trips and the locker rooms.  Not only for the transgender and the gay but the straight as well—because it brings such confusion to everybody," Olson said during Tuesday night's meeting.

Part of the guide calls for all parents of kids in a class to be notified if a transgender child may be in a class that requires a locker room, or on an overnight trip, and wants to use the facility that corresponds to their gender identity. The policy lets parents who object to that child's presence, request an accommodation.

“Sending out a parent notification could be seen as placing a target on a student’s back," said Laura Manders Kelly.

Parents of LGBTQ kids may also not be notified about it unless that child specifically requests an accommodation, or if their health or safety is at risk, which would then trigger a mandatory notification.

The guide is meant to help teachers and administrators navigate LGBTQ issues. It would require parents to approve any change to a student’s preferred pronouns.

The changes to the guide are partly due to a federal lawsuitthe district is facing after a parent sued, stating the district excluded them from conversations around their child's gender identity. The state’s new parental rights law --partly a response to a lawsuit against the district-- goes into effect Friday; it calls on schools to notify parents of any change in a child’s physical, mental or emotional well-being.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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