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Florida schools' LGBTQ support guides to get changes

LGBTQ flags fly in London's Hyde Park on July 24, 2021.
Alberto Pezzali
LGBTQ flags fly in London's Hyde Park on July 24, 2021.

Eleven school districts that submitted LGBTQ-support guides to state education officials this fall will have to update policies, according to a senior chancellor with the Florida Department of Education.

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. in August directed staff members to “pull” district support guides to review their content.

Senior Chancellor Jacob Oliva told members of the State Board of Education on Wednesday that 31 districts submitted support guides and policies, with 11 required to update the documents to comply with state laws.

Oliva said he expects the districts to update the policies by the next state board meeting in January. Scrutiny of support guides came after State Board of Education member Ryan Petty expressed “grave concerns” during an August board meeting.

Petty questioned, for example, part of a guide published by the Hillsborough County district.

“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 said.

Florida lawmakers in 2021 and 2022 passed measures that supporters say are aimed at strengthening parents’ rights. But the laws have sparked heated debates, in part about whether they could potentially “out” LGBTQ students.

The measures included a 2021 law known as the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which is designed to give families access to information about their students’ education and health care.

News Service of Florida