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Duval County students hold protests in response to district's 'You Matter' campaign

Students across six campuses held protests Friday in reaction to the district's divisive "You Matter Month" campaign, saying it overshadows Black History Month.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Students at six Duval County Public Schools campuses held protests Friday in observance of Black History Month.

One of the protests was conducted at Robert E. Lee High School. The walkouts stemmed from DCPS' February "You Matter Month" campaign focused on suicide prevention, according to Duval County students First Coast News spoke with.

Organizers at Sandalwood High School and Andrew Jackson High School told First Coast News they were disappointed when DCPS seemed to overshadow Black History Month with its own campaign.

The school district said that was never its intention and has since suspended the program while it reworks the theming.

However, students across the district say they also want to see more Black history taught in school, not only for Black History Month but all year round.

Juniors Amina Baker and Elizabeth Foster organized the walkout at Andrew Jackson Friday. They say it was a very powerful reflection of their pain.

Duval County Public Schools released the following statement:

"Today was a peaceful day across all of our high schools.

Students in six schools held peaceful demonstrations on the topic of Black History Month. Student leaders coordinated with school leaders to ensure these events were held in a manner which did not disrupt the school day for other students. In all cases, our students and student leaders demonstrated a high level of maturity and character in their effort to have their voices heard. 

School and district leaders were present to help manage the events and to hear the voices of the students. Conversations and relationships with student leaders built over time help to keep these events civil and appropriate for the educational environment. Today was an example of how these events can be educational experiences in effective civil discourse.  

Students are encouraged to continue the conversation at their schools with their school leaders on how we can continue to improve the work we do in Black History education.  In addition, arrangements are being made for student leaders to have a dialogue with Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene later this month. 

The district will work with students on more effective ways to make students aware of mental health resources and prevent teen suicide, while discontinuing the use of the “you matter” language."

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