The Leon County Schools LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee met on May 10th at the Aquilina Howell center to discuss the “Inclusive School Guide for LCS Employees” in regards to the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee is composed of 15 members and was approved by both the Superintendent and School Board. The aim of the meeting was to develop a guide for LCS employees to be trained on to help navigate laws, policies, and regulations related to LGBTQ+ students.
Assistant Superintendent of School Management, Alan Cox, facilitated the Committee review process.
The Committee reviewed the legal section of the “Inclusive School Guide for LCS Employees” editing various portions including the requirement that teachers use the students preferred name and pronoun found on the student information system, the FOCUS portal.
The most relevant portion of the document addressed the best practices related to LGBTQ+ students and policies regulating dress code, locker rooms, names and pronouns.
The Committee agreed to allow students to dress in ways that are consistent with the dress code reflecting their gender identity and gender expression. In regards to gender fluid students, they are allowed to dress within either sex’s dress code based on whichever identity they are expressing that day.
When asked about the dress code on jewelry and makeup, Jessica Chapman, the Sail High School principal, stated that it would be “a big no no” for students to wear offensive clothing and jewelry. The example of a dress code violation given by Ms. Chapman was a student wearing a confederate flag on a necklace.
Additionally, the Committee addressed the best practice when it comes to locker rooms and transgender students. There was a discussion about transgender students being allowed to use the locker room of their expressed identity on a case by case basis. However, the guidance on this issue was not finalized and will be discussed at a future meeting.
They also made it clear that all students would be allowed to request an individual changing room without having to explain any specific reason.
The final topic discussed before concluding the meeting was names and pronouns. As previously stated, parents or students of legal age can edit students’ preferred names and pronouns in the FOCUS portal. If the student and parents disagree on changing the preferred pronouns on FOCUS, teachers are to make the administration aware so they can have a conversation with the parents. This conversation could include recommendations to guidance counselors, therapists, and in extreme cases, involve the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The Committee will reconvene to finish editing the second half of the “Inclusive School Guide for LCS Employees” on May 25th.