Duval School’s ‘LGBTQ Support Guide’ Is Being Revamped Under New State Law

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – A 37-page document, which describes itself as “an essential tool at a critical time,” is currently undergoing intense scrutiny within Duval County Public Schools.

The DCPS LGBTQ+ Support Guide outlines district procedures for employees to support and protect members of this community. The guide is also not considered district policy, but rather an established set of guidelines.

While the guidelines remain in effect, a new version of the document is being drafted and will soon be submitted to the Duval County School Board for review. The update follows the passage of the controversial ‘Parental Rights in Education’ law, which critics have called a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ policy.

LILY: DCPS LGBTQ+ SUPPORT GUIDE

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The document covers applicable federal, state, and local laws and ordinances that dictate how schools should handle school scenarios where LGBTQ issues may arise, including bathroom usage, nouns, pronouns, nighttime excursions, dress codes, prom events, inclusive language and many more. other subjects.

“This guide will help our educational community realize the rights that each of us must be affirmed, protected and fulfilled,” said a preface written by superintendent Dr Dianas Greene. “This guide will also support our responsibility to affirm, protect and respect our students.”

Greene’s full statement as written in the support guide can be read below:

“Regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, every student should feel safe at each of our schools every day. These are rights that are protected by our school board policies and rights that affirm our commitment to mental health and school well-being. Safe, welcoming and inclusive environments increase the morale, motivation and learning of all students on our campuses.

Parents and guardians send their children to school in the hope that they will be free from harassment, bullying and discrimination. To this end, we have policies and procedures in place to protect our students from discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment or retaliation. We all deserve to feel comfortable expressing our identity.

Yet local, regional, and national surveys show that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ+) students experience continual verbal and physical harassment or threats, leading to truancy, academic failure, depression and even suicidal thoughts. While progress has been made in bringing attention to some of the negative outcomes for LGBTQ+ students, there is still room to grow.

That’s why we’re featuring the Duval County Public School LGBTQ+ Support Guide. This guide will help our educational community to realize the rights that each of us must be affirmed, protected and respected. This guide will also support our responsibility to affirm, protect and respect our students.

Thank you for being an integral part of our commitment to excellence that is reflected in the success of every student – wherever they come from, however they identify with, whoever they want to be.

Dr. Diana Greene, Superintendent, Duval County Public Schools

The document was brought back to the fore when the “parental right” law was signed by the governor. Scheduled to take effect July 1, the law limits how the topics of gender identity and sexual orientation are taught in Florida schools and outright bans all teaching of those topics from kindergarten through the 3rd year.

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In April, Charlotte Joyce, a member of the DCPS Board of Directors, filed a resolution that would, among other things, remove certain phrases from the guide dealing with parental communication.

Joyce’s resolution specifically identified the phrase, “it is never appropriate to disclose a student’s sexual orientation to a parent,” as a guideline that violates the “Parental Rights” Act, which expressly states that parents should be informed “if there is a change in the services or supervision of the student related to the mental, emotional or physical health or well-being of the student and the capacity of the school to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the student.”

However, Joyce’s resolution did not include the full sentence which reads: “With the very limited exception involving the imminent fear of physical harm, it is never appropriate to disclose a student’s sexual orientation. to a parent.”

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The main message from the DeSantis administration has been that the law is supposed to allow parents to have full control over all conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation with their children, saying it is a way to protect children from “indoctrination”.

“We will ensure that parents can send their children to school to receive education, not indoctrination,” DeSantis said before signing the measure on March 28.

Meanwhile, the DCPS Support Guide recognizes that some LGBTQ youth are at risk of being rejected and/or abused at home.

“Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ youth may experience parental rejection and/or abuse based on their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the guide said. “The degree to which teachers and administrators need to be sensitive to this issue cannot be overstated. In short, it’s a compliment when a student trusts you enough to come out. It is up to you to prove that you are worthy of this trust.

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The guide clearly underlines the importance of protecting children from bullying, harassment and discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, even if the source of these tribulations is in their own home.

Conservative lawmakers, pundits, and anti-LGBTQ activists have argued that advocating for LGBTQ rights is a form of “grooming” or “sexualizing” minors, though these arguments fail to take into account the difference between a person’s sexual orientation and sexual activity.

The Help Guide includes a one-page “Action Steps” list that provides key definitions, resources, and a list of key action steps for DCPS employees to take. one of the stages is titled “identity” and states: “All LGBTQ+ students have the right to decide when and with whom their gender identity and sexual orientation is shared, including with a student’s family. »

The document makes it clear that the working philosophy of Duval County Public Schools is that every individual, including a student, should be protected from harm and that their right to individuality and control of their own identity is among the more important to preserve.

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News4JAX has requested a copy of DCPS’s updated draft LGBTQ support guide and this article will be updated when that document is obtained. A district spokesperson had no information on the timeline for submitting the new version of the guide for council approval.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All Rights Reserved.

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