LCS Board approves LGBTQ guide
Find a PDF file of the guide and other documents at the bottom of this story.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Leon County School Board approved the LGBTQIA+ Policy Committee’s inclusive school guide during its meeting on Tuesday, June 28.
The committee crafted the LGBTQ guide over a series of meetings before the school year ended. Its goal was to help school staff support students while following new Florida laws protecting parental rights.
“It provides guidance to ensure that all students are treated equitably and with dignity in the school setting,” the guide’s introduction says. “Leon County Schools will not discriminate nor tolerate harassment in its educational programs or activities on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The 15-page guide included the following entries in its table of contents:
- The Importance of Safe and Supportive Schools
- Federal and State Law, Board Policy and Best Practices
- When a Student Shares with You
- LGBTQIA+ Resources
Under the federal and state law, board policy and best practices section, the guide covers a variety of topics, including athletics, bullying, locker rooms, names and pronouns, parent notification and more. It also lists which law may be applicable, if any, to the corresponding topic.
The largest amendment made to the guide before the school board approved it was under the locker room topic in that section, specifically if the student requested privacy about their gender identity.
“If the parent and student have requested privacy and nondisclosure about their child’s gender identity within their LCS LGBTQIA+ Plan and have agreed that the student will change clothes, shower, and use the restroom facilities in a private manner for all students, no further action is needed by school administration,” the amendment reads.
The guide says students are allowed to access locker rooms and restrooms that match their gender identity or be provided appropriate accommodations. It points out that no student should be required to use a single-person restroom.
If a student is open about their gender identity, parents of students who are in the same P.E. class or extracurricular activity that uses locker rooms will be notified about reasonable accommodation options. The guide says decisions regarding those accommodations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Here is the parent notification example the guide provided:
“All students are allowed to access locker rooms and restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity or be provided appropriate accommodations. A student who is open about their gender identity is in your child’s Physical Education class or extra/co-curricular activity. If you are requesting accommodation for your student, please contact school administration to discuss reasonable accommodation options.”
The privacy topic says school personnel will not share information about a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity and expression without their input and permission, “unless services are needed or requested related to the student’s mental, emotional or physical health or wellbeing.”
When it comes to notifying parents, the guide lists Chapter 1014 of Florida Statutes as the relevant law, saying parents will be notified if there is a change in a student’s mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. The privacy topic says Article 1 Section 23 of the Florida Constitution recognizes privacy as a right, and that right is extended to minors as well.
The privacy best practice says school personnel must not intentionally withhold information from parents, “unless a reasonably prudent person would believe that disclosure would result in abuse, abandonment, or neglect.” If personnel believes notifying the parent of a student’s LGBTQ identity would lead to abuse, then they must make a report to the Department of Children and Families.
The guide says teachers and school personnel should do the following if a student shares with them that they are part of the LGBTQ community:
- Offer support but don’t assume a student needs any help
- Be a role model of acceptance
- Appreciate the student’s courage
- Listen Non-Judgmentally
The guide also provides a list of resources for making sure the schools are safe and supportive environments for students who identify as LGBTQ. These included links to state and federal education and health resources, as well as local mental health resources.
References for the terminology and statistics used in the guide were also provided.
Copyright 2022 WCTV. All rights reserved.