PBC school district obeys law, pulls LGBTQ guide from website

School districts across Florida continue to comply with the new Parental Rights in Education House Bill 1557, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics. The law took effect July 1st, and last week the Palm Beach County School District removed an LGBT support guide from its website.

The School District of Palm Beach County has removed a guide detailing practices on how to support LGBT students and staff. The support guide, which is over 100 pages long, provides details about federal anti-discrimination laws, anti-bullying practices, and provides support to those who are coming out and or transitioning.

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A summary of the guide reads “We feel this guide is a critical tool at a critical time. All young people — including those who are LGBTQ+ — have the right to feel safe and secure in the schools they attend. Students who feel accepted at school are more highly motivated, engaged in learning, and committed to achieving the best possible education,” according to WUSF Public Media.

Joe Budd, Republican state committeeman for Palm Beach County and a congressional candidate for FL District 23 had this to say:

As Palm Beach County Schools remove their LGBTQ support guide in compliance with the new Parental Rights in Education law, I’d like to Congratulate America’s favorite Governor, Ron DeSantis, on his efforts to protect the innocence of a child.  ~Joe Budd

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Numerous  Florida counties have created their own support guides with information including lists of community resources and statistics on mental health for LGBT community members.

Equality Florida Press Secretary Brandon Wolf says resources like Palm Beach County’s guide are critical for queer kids — who are significantly more likely than their straight peers to experience violence and attempt suicide, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“The goal of providing guidelines like the critical support guide has always been to help improve the mental and physical health outcomes of LGBTQ young people,” Wolf Said.

The guide continues on to read “These statistics validate the need for the Guide. Let there be no doubt — affirming education can save lives when it comes to LGBTQ+ youth. Many face unique challenges based on social stigma and environmental stressors that may stem from home, school, or both.”

The guide provides language that strongly advocates against a school’s staff from disclosing a student’s gender identity and or sexual orientation to anyone, including parents, without permission.

“Occasionally, a parent may contact teachers, guidance counselors, or administrators to ask if their child has confided in them about their sexual orientation or gender identity. With the very limited exception involving the imminent fear of physical harm, it is never appropriate to divulge the sexual orientation or gender identity of a student to a parent/caregiver without that student’s informed consent.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the bill serves to weed out classroom instruction regarding sexual identity and orientation to children in Kindergarten through third grade and would tie the definition of “age-appropriate” and “developmentally appropriate” to a state standard.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Harding, R-Williston made a statement regarding the bill’s critics, stating, “I want folks that oppose the bill to be really clear on what they’re actually opposing. I want them to go on record to say it’s OK for a six-year-old to have one identity in school and one at home because the school encourages that kind of behavior.”

Harding said the bill would not apply to one-off classroom conversations. It would instead only apply to lesson plans.

 

The bill grants Florida parents the ability to sue their local school on the grounds that the school violates the enhanced standards parents have over their children’s education curriculum.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R- Palm Harbor, made a statement regarding the bill, saying,

“If a first-grader walked into school and they started talking about sex education, I think all of the people in this room would agree that’s not appropriate for a six-year-old to learn about. Our bill is very reasonable. To the extent that it’s been controversial, it’s only because of the misreporting that has happened.”

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