The Leon County School Board (LCSB) discussed the Leon County LGBTQ+ Support Guide during the Monday evening LCSB agenda review on January 24, 2022.
Though it has been around since 2015, the LGBTQ+ guide has been a controversial document since 2021. This is due to a lawsuit filed by the Littlejohn family against the LCSB for allegedly not contacting them about a support plan for their child initiated by school staff. Since then, the guide has been under review and modification.
At Monday’s meeting, Leon County School Board member Alva Striplin started the conversation by explaining she pulled the LGBTQ+ guide item from the agenda for the Tuesday evening school board meeting.
“My biggest concern is my right as a parent. I would want to know if my child asked to change their pronouns in school,” Striplin said.
She further stated her other concern is what is asked of teachers, “we ask them to educate, to be health care surrogates, and now deal with mental health issues.” Striplin asserted that student guidance counselors should be handling these matters. If a child should present an issue to a teacher, the teacher should direct the student to the guidance counselor.
She suggested that the LGTBQ+ guide be pulled indefinitely, at least until the Florida legislative session is over. After the session is completed, Striplin said we need to have “a significant deep dive” into the document.
Superintendent Rocky Hanna agreed with Striplin, as did most of the other Board members, about having guidance counselors, rather than teachers, work with students and parents through these matters.
However, Hanna differed from Striplin in that he wants to have the guide completed and published for administrators and teachers, sooner rather than later. “We can strike things if we want, but we need to have a guide,” Hannah said. He elaborated on removing an entire section regarding teachers’ actions in classrooms as an example.
The superintendent voiced his exasperation about what speculations are circulating concerning how the schools are handling these situations. “I hate how divisive this has become, Hanna said. “These are not things we are teaching in our classes. These are issues that children are coming from home and talking to our teachers about.”
Board member Roseanne Wood feels strongly about protecting the students’ rights too. She expressed the need to ensure that if a student isn’t ready to talk with their parents about the issue, the counselor or teacher should take no action with a support plan. However, if the student wishes to create a support plan, the counselor will contact the parents. Although she too agreed with Striplin to table the guide, for the time being, she also suggested having student input “so that we can get it right,” Wood said.
As the conversation came to a close, School Board Chair Darryl Jones reminded the Board of the importance of having parent and student input, as the document may impact them directly.
Hanna consented that the guide will be shelved until the legislative session is finished. Then they will form a committee, obtain student, parent, and employee input, and create a new draft of the LGBTQ+ guide.