The Leon County School Board is in the process of updating a document called the “LCS Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Support Guide.”
During the last “Agenda Review/Workshops” meeting on January 11th, the LCSB spent considerable time addressing a number of issues in the guide including the use of nicknames and parents rights.
Tallahassee Reports obtained a copy of the “Guide” and listed below are a number of “Frequently Asked Questions and Answers” that address a range of issues.
For example, FAQ’s indicate:
- students may not be disciplined for cross dressing
- a student may participate on a sports team based on gender identity not birth sex
- a student may choose a bathroom based on gender identity not birth sex
- events titled Donuts for Dads and Father-Daughter Dance should be changed
- parents must be involved with gender decisions related to name changes and school actions related sexuality issues.
See complete questions and answers from the “Guide” provided below.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Q: What is School Board policy regarding LGBTQ+ students?
A: This policy is explained in LCS Policies 2260 – NONDISCRIMINATION AND ACCESS TO EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY, which reads, in part, “…the Board will not discriminate nor tolerate harassment in its educational programs or activities on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Q: A student wishes to be called a name other than their legal name (commonly referred to a nickname or go by name)?
A: Parents or majority age students must amend the Student Information System (SIS) and place the name in the preferred name field prior to referring to the student by their requested name.
Q: What is the difference in a preferred/affirmed name and a nick name?
A: A preferred name may be provided in the Student Support Plan at the end of this document or on the student enrollment form in the “Preferred Name” field. This is the name by which a student is popularly known or as requested by a parent or guardian. Nicknames or pet names that are used by parents but not suitable for school use should not be included on intake forms. Registrars can question the suitability of a nickname when it is requested, provided that such questions are not based on gender.
Q: A “male” student wore a dress to school, which caused a disruption in class. Is this a violation of the student dress code?
A: A student may not be disciplined for cross dressing or wearing clothing that is historically or typically associated with a gender other than the student’s gender role, provided the clothing otherwise meets the school’s dress code. The gender of the individual wearing them is not relevant to determining a dress code violation. The fact that a disruption occurred does not implicate the student wearing the clothing, but rather, is an indication that the campus could benefit from a conversation about tolerance understanding of differences.
Q: A student wants to change their name and gender marker in their educational record. What actions need to be taken?
A: The District must use a student’s legal name on all official educational records. While a student may be referred to by a nickname (which may also be referred to as a “go by name”) by school staff (the process for doing so set forth in the following question), and this nickname may be included in certain educational records, the only mechanism by which a majority age student or their parent may change a student’s legal name in their educational records is by obtaining a Final Judgment of Name Change from a court and presenting that to the school.
Regarding a student’s gender, a district will maintain the gender listed on the student’s birth certificate until presented with an amended birth certificate by the majority age student or their parent. Parents and majority age students have the right under the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to amend information that is “inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of student’s rights of privacy.” (34C.F.R. & 99.7(a)(2)(ii). Any requested change must be documented by supporting records indicating the amendment meets the criteria set forth by FERPA.
Q: A student has complained about a person of the wrong sex in the bathroom or locker room area. What action should be taken?
A: Report it to the administration. As part of LCS policy against discrimination based on gender identity, any student may use restroom and locker room facilities in accordance with their gender identity; however there is a process by which to do so. Students may request additional privacy in locker rooms and should be provided with a private area where they can change clothes for gym class or athletic activities.
The privacy areas should be offered to all students who wish to change with a higher level of privacy for any reason. Toilet stalls are not changing areas.
Q: A student wants to participate in athletic activities in a gender different than what official records show as their gender. What rules decide when this is allowed?
A: Leon County Schools follows the Administrative Policies of the Florida High School Athletics Association (FHSAA) for high school athletics. Section 4.3 of these policies states, in part, “GENDER IDENTITY PARTICIPATION.”All eligible students should have the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity and expression, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s birth certificate and/or records.”
FHSAA Administrative Policies 4.3 outlines the “Gender Identity Eligibility Review Process” beginning with the student and parent or legal guardian notifying the school administrator or athletic director prior to the start of the sport season. This is followed by documentation that includes a written statement from the student affirming consistent gender identity, a similar statement from the parent or legal guardian, a letter from a medical professional, and other documents. The section gives a detailed description of the process. While the rules are written for interscholastic competition at the high school level, they guide decisions for middle school requests for athletic participation.
Q: A student has complained that a teacher, student or school employee has intentionally “misgendered” them. What does this mean and what should be done about it?
A: Misgendering a student is intentionally using the wrong gender pronouns. As part of LCS policy against discrimination based on gender identity, misgendering is considered harassment. Students, faculty and staff are expected to treat their peers with respect, including using their preferred gender pronouns, even if those pronouns are gender neutral, (i.e., “they”, “them”).
Similarly, consistent, intentional “deadnaming”, or using the discarded birth name of a student, faculty, or staff member that is not the preferred name of that person is considered harassment.
Q: A common practice is dividing students by gender during classroom activities. Should this practice be reconsidered?
A: Yes. Division by gender alienates and isolates students who do not conform to conventional gender stereotypes. It also can reinforce stereotypes and encourage students to make judgments based on gender. If not wholly removed, consider varying between gender grouping and other types of grouping (age, food preferences, sports teams), and always include a group for those who do not like the other options presented.
Q: A parent or legal guardian and their same-sex partner have expressed frustration with completing paperwork that asks for information about their child’s mother and father. A single father is concerned that his student won’t have an adult at Muffins and Moms. A single mother is upset that her daughter will not be able to participate in a Father-Daughter dance. How can our schools make sure that non-traditional families, such as same-sex parents, single parents, legal guardians, and blended families, feel supported and welcomed?
A: Same-sex marriage has been legal throughout the United States since 2015 and same-sex couples have been raising children for decades. It is normal and common to have students with same-sex parents. Leon County Schools recommends inclusive language that is consistent with its non-discrimination policies. Paperwork should ask for “parent or legal guardian” information rather than “mother” or “father” and all school events should make clear that adults of all genders are welcome.
Gender-specific events like “Muffins with Moms” and “Doughnuts with Dads” should either be changed to be more inclusive or include notes in the invitations that parents or legal guardians of either gender are welcome to attend.
Q: A student has come out as LGBTQ+ to administrators or teachers. Should the parents or legal guardians be notified?
A: Yes, unless you believe that disclosure to the parent or guardian will place the student in imminent danger. If you believe that disclosure will place the student in imminent danger, you must contact DCF immediately. Accommodations cannot be initiated until completion of the DCF investigation or until the parents are notified.