The recently passed Parental Rights in Education bill has Florida school districts scrambling to change policies and remove books that might violate the provisions of the legislation.
Notably, The Palm Beach Post reported that Palm Beach County school officials are ending the use of the “Genderbread Person” infographic. The infographic was used to explain the differences between anatomical sex, gender expression, gender identity, sexual attraction and romantic attraction.
Palm Beach Schools Superintendent Mike Burke said the infographic was “problematic because it gave the impression that we were targeting a younger audience. … I’m not sure it was the most valuable piece of our curriculum.”
Part of the process in Palm Beach included sending questionnaires to teachers seeking information about materials used in classroom activities. If the questionnaire revealed potential violations, teachers were asked to send the material to school officials for review.
Pinellas County Schools, located next to Tampa on the Gulf Coast, will offer parents an opt-out choice on a case-by-case basis. Parents and guardians can opt out of student access to library media materials any time by contacting their school Library Media Technology Specialist.
The district also has a process for reviewing controversial library and instructional materials using a school-based review committee. The review committee is appointed by the principal and is composed of three faculty members, two parents chosen by the school advisory council, two members representing the community, and the library information specialist, who shall serve as the non-voting chairman/facilitator.
The Sarasota County school district, located in Southwest Florida, is reviewing existing board policies to make sure they comply with any new legislation. Suggested changes to any policies would be presented at a school board workshop.
Two North Florida school districts, Duval and Leon, have made changes to their respective LGBTQ guides based on the new legislation. The guides provide direction on how school districts should handle school-based scenarios where LGBTQ+ issues might come up. Those issues include restroom use, pronouns, overnight field trips, dress codes, prom events, inclusive language, and other sensitive topics. The guides had to be edited to include provisions in the new legislation related to parental rights.
In a memo sent to Florida superintendents from the Department of Education on June 6, the state said the provisions of the legislation related to LGBTQ+ instruction in grades K-3 would take effect July 1.
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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star.