Leon County Schools has released the initial draft of a revised LGBTQ Inclusive School Guide (Guide) which will be reviewed by a committee of stakeholders beginning in May. After the review, the Guide will be presented to the Leon County School Board.
There are notable differences from previous publications dedicated to this issue.
The initial draft Guide does not include the ten pages of forms previously identified as the “Leon County School District Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Student Support Plan.”
The initial draft Guide does not include separate guidance related to actions to be taken in classrooms.
The initial draft Guide does have a section titled “When a Student Comes Out to You…” The section recommends using inclusive language and setting an accepting environment by not making assumptions about people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The section also notes that “If the student needs support, the school personnel must notify the parent.”
Listed below are the best practices recommended in the draft Guide for selected issues:
Federal law does not address allowing a transgender student to play on a team consistent with their gender identity and expression.
As a result of Senate Bill 1028/Florida Statute 1006.205, athletic teams or sports designated for female, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex. A statement of a student’s biological sex on the student’s official birth certificate is considered to have correctly stated the biological sex if the statement was filed at or near the student’s birth.
Speaking About Gender
Federal courts have found students have a constitutional right to be “out” at school.
Schools will not silence students who are open about their sexual orientation or gender identify, or who question their orientation or gender identity.
Gay, Straight, Alliance Clubs
Under the Federal Equal Access Act, a public school permitting any non- curricular club must also allow students to form a GSA. The school must also treat the GSA the same as it does any other non- curricular club in terms of access to facilities, resources, and opportunities to advertise.
Schools will permit students to form GSA clubs. The clubs will comply with S. B. Rule 4.06 “Student Clubs and Organizations.”
Federal or Florida state law does not require schools to call a student by a requested name or use gender pronouns consistent with their gender identity. However, Chapter 1014 F.S. does reserve the right to the parent to direct the education and care as well as to direct the upbringing of his or her minor child. Intentionally misgendering a student could be considered bullying or harassment.
The parent or student of legal age will notify the school of the preferred name and gender pronoun corresponding to the one consistently asserted by their gender identity.
Documentation from a Florida court is required to reflect a change in name and/or gender in a student’s official school records.
School will only modify student records to reflect a change in name or gender upon receipt of such documentation from a Florida court. While official student records must contain the student’s legal name, schools should permit the use of preferred name on unofficial records to assist staff in calling the student the preferred name. The guardian or student of legal age can add the preferred name in the FOCUS portal.
Change in Wellbeing
HB1557 and Chapter 1014 F.S. require the parent to be notified if there is a change in a students’ mental, emotional, or physical health or wellbeing.
School personnel will notify a parent if there is a change in a students’ services or monitoring related to the students’ mental, emotional, or physical health or wellbeing.
The U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the federal constitutional right to privacy, which extends to students in a school setting.
School personnel will not disclose information about a students’ sexual orientation, transgender identity or questions they may have about their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Segregating Students by Sex
Title IX regulations permit offering single-sex classes under certain circumstances. The general rule under Title IX is that a recipient may not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently any person on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities—including classes and extracurricular activities—unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or the Department’s implementing regulations.
Students can join a school sponsored club that corresponds to their consistently asserted transgender identity. Students can be separated by sex in class for contact sports in physical education classes and other topics such as Human Growth and Development.