JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board will consider a resolution that supports the “Parental Rights in Education” law — which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law. It bans school employees from having conversations with students about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade — and places non-specific limits on those conversations throughout K-12 ages.
In addition to saying the board “unequivocally supports” the Parental Rights in Education law, the resolution also says the board is considering a key change to its LGBTQ+ “Support Guide.”
The guide isn’t currently available on the district’s website. News4JAX is reaching out to the school district to find out why, but versions of it have been posted in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Florida Times-Union reported that the district’s legal department is reviewing the guide in response to the new law, which is the reason it’s unavailable.
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Specifically, the resolution would strike the phrase, “it is never appropriate to divulge the sexual orientation of a student to a parent,” from the guide.
The resolution would also change the language that currently instructs school personnel — without any parental involvement — to have children decide on the bathroom of their choice as well as shower and other accommodations.
That arguably falls in line with the language included in the Parental Rights in Education law, which states schools must notify parents if there is a change to services for a student or if a school imposes any additional monitoring for their “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis and supporters have repeatedly said the new law is reasonable, and that parents — not teachers — should be broaching the subjects of sexual orientation and gender identity with their children.
Critics argue it marginalizes LGBTQ+ people.
The President of the American Psychological Association condemned the law saying:
A recent survey was conducted in 2019 showing studies support this.
The CDC’s High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey found 58% of gay, lesbian or bisexual students in Florida felt sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two or more weeks in a row, 36% seriously considered attempting suicide and 20% attempted it.
That’s compared to 29% of heterosexual students who say they regularly felt sad, 11% who seriously considered attempting suicide and 5% who did attempt.
The Florida Department of Education dropped out of participating in the survey last month. Mental health advocates have called the move to withdraw “an incredibly dangerous precedent.”
The FDOE sent News4JAX the following statement about why it withdrew from the survey:
“We will not stop collecting data. We simply withdrew from a federal grant we did not view as necessary to collect this information. Rather than continue with a generic nationwide survey, our intent is to improve our data collection efforts to make the survey specifically tailored to Florida’s unique needs.”
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