JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — (Editor's Note: The video above is from a previous story)
The Duval County School Board voted 7-0 to change its support services in compliance with the Parental Rights in Education law.
Members were tasked with determining whether to implement a policy that would require school employees to notify parents if there’s a change in their student’s support services.
This includes if a student requests to change his or her name or gender pronoun.
It comes after Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education Bill into law.
LGBT advocates say this policy and other recent changes disproportionately will affect LGBT students. Advocates say this could make LGBT students feel like they can’t disclose certain information.
“I'm very disappointed that resources are being removed that are useful to helping students who really need help in our schools," Jimmy Midyette, Legislative Director for the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, said. "LGBTQ students have always been a part of our local schools. They will always be a part of our local schools. And so administrators, leaders have only the choice to make sure that those students are protected and treated with respect or, or not. And unfortunately, it looks like they're going with or not right now,” he said.
He's talking about the removal of an anti-bullying video from the district's website. It taught middle and high schoolers how to support LGBT students. A district spokesperson says it was removed for legal review to make sure it's in compliance with the state's new Parental Rights in Education law.
The spokesperson also said any parent who believes their child is being bullied is asked to call the bullying prevention hotline at 904-390-2255 to start a bullying investigation.
Dubbed the "Don't Say Gay Law," by critics, the law bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3. It will also impact older students, but not until state education officials issues a formal guidance on the new law.
The district also scrapped its stand alone LGBT plus support guide, putting some of that information in a comprehensive support manual.
"The concern is that these are measures that are sort of targeting LGBTQ students, and I do share that that concern and that's I think, why the community, the LGBT community, parents and others have been so engaged," Midyette said.
Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene has said, "the proof is in our actions, and we will continue to do all we can to help students thrive."
Monday, the board will vote on the policy requiring school employees to notify parents if students make changes in their student support services, including asking to change their name or pronouns. There is an exception if school employees think notifying parents will result in "abuse … abandonment or neglect" of the student.
“I'm still concerned that that policy, while, you know, required by law, there's still components that aren't quite clear as to what's going to trigger a notification response," Dan Merkan, Director of Policy at JASMYN, said.
JASMYN is a group that supports LGBTQ young people.
"What is the procedure going to be to make sure that it doesn't put young people in harm's way and set them up for abuse or neglect or abandonment? I mean, that's in the policy, but they don't really spell out what the system will be to ensure that due diligence was done each time a notification is generated, that it's not creating or generating a new problem that puts young people at risk," Merkan said.
"Removal of these documents and guidance and things that are visible, you know, sends a message to young folks that might be LGBTQ that the district doesn't support them. And that's pretty clear. Now, whether that's the intended effect, you know, I'm sure there are many good teachers and school board members that don't want to harm LGBT young people, but that's the effect," Merkan said.
Midyette had advice for teachers as the policy is voted on.
"We all have special teachers to us, people that we feel like we can talk to whenever. Maybe there's not someone at home that we can talk to, and I just encourage teachers to continue to be that for their students," Midyette said.