Florida Pulls LGBTQ ‘Support Guides’ From Schools, Citing ‘Grave Concerns’ Over Parental Rights

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  • 09/21/2022

This article was originally published at The Post Millennial, a part of the Human Events Media Group.

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Florida is pulling numerous LGBTQ support documents from all school districts in the state for review, after the State Board of Education suggested that some of these could violate a law passed earlier this year.

On Wednesday, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. gave his staff the go ahead to conduct the action, with board member Ryan Petty stating that he has "grave concerns" regarding these support guide provided to teachers, students, and school staff members, according to News Service of Florida.

Petty reportedly took specific issue with one line from a guide out of the Hillsborough County school district, reading it aloud during a recent State board of Education meeting.

"With the limited exception involving the imminent fear of physical harm, it is never appropriate to divulge the sexual orientation of a student to a parent," the Hillsborough County guide reportedly said.

In an email sent later, Petty said that he did not know whether the Hillsborough guidance has been updated, but he had requested that the State Department of Education collect every support guide from a cross the state to conduct a "review, by this board, to ensure compliance with state law and department regulation."

One guide out of Palm Beach County issued similar guidance to Hillsborough County regarding parents and guardians, but that guidance has since been changed after the county conducted a review.

"Parents are entitled to access their students’ educational records. If the information about a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity is contained in a student record, parents are entitled to this information," the Palm Beach County section now says, according to News Service of Florida. "Students also have a constitutional right to privacy which includes the right to determine whether or not sensitive information about themselves will be disclosed to others."

While Petty did not name the law he suspects is being violated, it is suggested that these guidances may be violating the Parental Rights in Education bill passed earlier this year.

The bill prevents the teaching of sexual orientation and gender identity to children in kindergarten through third grade, while those in older grades should receive the teachings in a way that is "age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate."

The law also directs school boards to adopt procedures to inform parents about changes to their child’s school services or monitoring the students’ mental, emotion, or physical health.

The move to review these guides comes as teachers unions have directed their members to ignore direction from the Florida Department of Education to ignore proposed changes from the Biden administration to Title IX and Title VII.

The proposed changes would require schools that receive federal funding to allow students’ access to the bathroom of the gender they identify as. Under Biden's Title VII interpretation, funding would be withheld from lunch programs that do not comply.

The local teachers union, backed by the National Education Association, have informed its members not to comply with Florida’s request, and that the "guidance" issued by the Biden administration had actually been enacted as federal law.

Diaz said "you should not treat the USDOE or USDA guidance documents as binding or otherwise modify your practices or procedures based on these documents.

"Specifically," he goes on, "for example, nothing in these guidance documents requires you to give biological males who identify as female access to female bathrooms, locker rooms, or dorms; to assign biological males who identify as female to female rooms on school field trips' or to allow biological males who identify as female to compete on female sports teams."

The revised Palm Beach guide also notes that the law allows districts to withhold information from parents if it could lead to “abuse, abandonment or neglect” of students.

Diaz signed of on Petty’s request for a review of the guides, saying, "I think we hear what board member Petty is bringing up loud and clear, and we will go ahead and proceed with that request and we will pull those (support guides) and Senior Chancellor (Jacob) Oliva will start that process as soon as we get back."

The board’s decision has drawn criticism from LGBTQ advocacy groups, with Brandon Wolf, press secretary of Equality Florida, telling the News Service of Florida that it’s part of of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “cynical weaponization of state agencies” against LGBTQ youth.

"Across the state, districts have spent years working alongside their communities to create more inclusive school environments, implementing nationally recognized best practices for supporting all students. Now, the governor is politicizing those resources for the purpose of bolstering his election year bona fides. School districts routinely review and update these resources to remain in compliance with all applicable laws and provide the best possible support for students," Wolf said.

"Equality Florida’s grave concern is for the protection of LGBTQ students. The Department of Education’s record on these issues has demonstrated clear hostility toward those protections," Wolf’s statement added.

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