Equality Florida: Duval Schools lack ‘visible support’ for LGBTQ students

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The Duval County School District has classrooms that are “bare of visible support” for LGBTQ students, according to Equality Florida, as locals continue to adjust to changes in state law.

The LGBTQ civil rights organization attributes this to an “emergency meeting” of principals last week, in which they were directed to remove posters, wall decorations and stickers that “support and affirm” LGBTQ students. We have reached out for more details on this meeting, and will add when we have them.

“The district’s censorship of LGBTQ-inclusive classroom environments sends a dangerous message to young people,” said Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Senior Political Director.

“In tearing down rainbow Safe Space stickers and tossing inclusive posters into the trash, Duval County Public Schools is telling students that there is something inherently wrong with LGBTQ people — and telegraphing to LGBTQ youth that they should remain hidden,” Saunders continued.

“Despite false assurances from Republican proponents of the Don’t Say LGBTQ Law that its scope would be narrow and its impacts limited to grades K-3, we are witnessing sweeping effects of this intentionally-vague policy across the state, with broad censorship of LGBTQ people being applied to every grade level. School districts are charged with doing everything in their power to mitigate the harms of HB 1557 and ensure that every student is protected in school and every family is respected. Duval County Public Schools should reverse course and recommit to cultivating an environment that is inclusive of and celebrates all students.”

HB 1557, the Parental Rights in Education law, has been called “Don’t Say Gay” by critics, who feared a chilling effect from the law. The law bans classroom “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity” for students in kindergarten through third grade, or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

In the immediate wake of the bill passing, the school district moved to pare down the LGBTQ Support Guide and remove an anti-bullying video used by the district, while concerns persisted from the LGBTQ community about what the future could look like.

We have reached out to the Duval County School District for a response to Equality Florida’s claim.

Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene downplayed worries in a recent interview with WJXT, saying that “Team Duval” was ready to offer a safe and supportive environment in the new school year.

“But we will also ensure that every single student that steps on our campus, that they know that they have people who care about them, that can support them and that we can support their families, as well,” Greene said last week.

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