A screenshot of the front page of Duval Schools' LGTBQ+ Support Guide that is black, with a vertical rainbow and the text "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender & Questioning LGBTQ+ Support Guide."A screenshot of the front page of Duval Schools' LGTBQ+ Support Guide that is black, with a vertical rainbow and the text "Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender & Questioning LGBTQ+ Support Guide."
The 37-page document under review outlines how teachers can ensure LGBTQ students' safety on school campuses.

‘It all boils down to one paragraph.’ Duval Schools could change its LGBTQ support guide Tuesday

Published on May 16, 2022 at 1:11 pm

The Duval County School Board is set to meet Tuesday morning to discuss an update to its LGBTQ support guide, which district attorneys have been revising to comply with Florida’s Parental Rights in Education law, which critics call “Don’t Say Gay.”

Support guides like Duval’s, which are in effect in districts across the state, were a large part of what spawned House Bill 1557, Parental Rights. The new law requires school districts to notify parents if there is “a change in services regarding a child’s mental, emotional or physical health or well-being.”

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The law could require teachers to alert parents if kids go by different names or pronouns, which goes against Duval’s current support guide.

“At the end of each state legislative process, the district typically informs the board of the changes to the law and the steps we must take to comply,” district spokesperson Tracy Pierce wrote in an emailed statement. “We are following that same process for HB 1557.”

According to Pierce, changing the support guide won’t require a School Board vote because it’s used for internal training and is not formal School Board policy. Tuesday’s meeting about updating the guide is a School Board workshop, without a public comment period.

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But the School Board has heard from the public about the guide. More than 250 people attended a recent School Board meeting to speak about the guide and the new state law. Their comments came in response to a push by School Board member Charlotte Joyce to thank Gov. Ron DeSantis for the new law and call for a new guide.

All other School Board members voted to table her plan without discussion. School Board Chair Darryl Willie said the district already planned to comply, making her proposed resolution unnecessary.

School Superintendent Diana Greene has previously said there is one sentence in the support guide that conflicts with the new law.

“It all boils down to one paragraph in the manual, where it states that if a child indicates to a teacher about their gender identity, that the teacher wouldn’t take it any further,” Greene told School Board members in April.

The current support guide states that “a student should never be ‘outed’ without their input and permission.”

But not all School Board members agreed that the new law requires school districts to modify this section of the guide.

“We would notify parents if there’s a change in the student’ services,” former School Board Chair Elizabeth Andersen said at an April workshop. “I don’t know that someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity falls into that category.”

The district removed the current support guide from its website late last year. District spokesperson Sonya Duke-Bolden said it was removed because “the Office of General Counsel is currently reviewing our old LGBTQ+ Support Guide to ensure compliance when the new statute goes into effect.”

The new law takes effect July 1. See the current support guide, now removed from the district’s website, below.

author image Reporter, Jacksonville Today email Claire has been a reporter in Jacksonville since August of 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. Reach Claire with tips, ideas or comments at (904) 250-0926, claire@jaxtoday.org and on Twitter at @ClaireHeddles.

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