JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Parents, students, teachers and Jacksonville residents gathered outside Duval County Public Schools headquarters before Tuesday night's school board meeting to voice their concerns about LGBTQ+ transparency in schools.
DCPS recently scrapped its LGBTQ+ supports guidelines in favor of a new drafted set of guidelines that groups guidelines for LGBTQ+ students with those with disabilities and those suffering from mental health challenges.
“Consolidating training and guidance documents for staff shouldn’t reflect on our commitment to supporting students,” Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said. “The proof is in our actions, and we will continue to do all we can to help students thrive.”
Dr. Jennifer Cowart organized a Pride celebration to rally support against the draft Tuesday night. She believes the new guidelines don't include any resources to support students who are going through the coming out process. She says the old guidelines included support for those kids.
"Our kids deserve to be safe and affirmed all kids all families and we ask that the LGBTQ+ support guide be returned to its comprehensive state and that that information and educational support be brought back for our teachers and staff to keep kids safe at school," Cowart said.
The rally also attracted people against the old LGBTQ+ support guidelines.
Longtime Jacksonville resident, Wade Mask, was in line to speak during Tuesday's school board meeting.
"Whether they're 12 or they're 16 that's my child that I deal with every day that I pray over every day that I weep and cry over every day when something's going on in their lives. I know every parent isn't like that," Mask said.
"Thank the lord that we do have loving people working at the school system, people that care about the children. They can go and get help and on an individual basis these things can be handled, but no broad base," he added.
The drafted guidelines are not on the docket at tonight's school board meeting.
In July, DCPS says the board will look at the new procedures it is developing to be in compliance with parental rights legislation. If approved by the Board, these procedures will inform the guidance that is in the student support guide.
This guide will not be voted on by the school board. It is an internal administrative document that provides guidance to employees on how to support students. What will go before the Board in July are new procedures we are developing to be in compliance with parental rights legislation.
If approved by the Board, these procedures will inform the guidance that is in the student support guide.