TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Leon County School District board voted unanimously to create an updated “Inclusive School Guide” for the coming school year. The guide is described in its own text as “a living document” that will be reviewed and updated every year.
While its aim is to “be a tool for school administrators and personnel to effectively navigate existing laws, regulations and policies that support LGBTQIA+ students.”
However, a policy focused on telling parents when an LGBTQIA+ student is in some classes or school activities is troubling some members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Here’s how the policy is described in the guide.
Leon County’s guide introduction says that “all students deserve the right to be treated fairly, without bias or discrimination, and all students have the ability to receive support and services, these guidelines are intended to provide information and resources for school personnel.”
The portion that has troubled some residents is later in the document, and details a notification process for parents if there is a student, in a gym class or going on an overnight trip, that potentially identifies as a different gender than their biological sex.
The provision of the policy reads:
All students are allowed to access locker rooms and restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity or be provided appropriate accommodations. If the parent and student have requested privacy and nondisclosure about their child’s gender identity within their Plan and have accepted an accommodation regarding locker room use that will provide privacy for all students, no further action is needed by school administration. Upon notification or determination of a student who is open about their gender identity, parents of the affected students will be notified of reasonable accommodation options available.Leon County Inclusive School Guide, page 8
Additionally, the policy guide says that “if accommodations are desired, decisions should be made on case-by-case basis, and should be student focused” but says no student should be “required to use a single-user restroom.”
The notification itself, if sent to parents, reads:
All students are allowed to access locker rooms and restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity or be provided appropriate accommodations. A student who is open about their gender identity may be in your child’s Physical Education class or extra/cocurricular activity. If you are requesting accommodation for your student, please contact school administration to discuss reasonable accommodation options.Leon County Inclusive School Guide, page 8
As related to overnight travel for school activities, the Leon County Inclusive School Guide said parents with concerns about rooming “based on religious or privacy concerns” may request accommodation. Again, those decisions are required to be made on a case-by-case basis, and required to be “student-focused, with support of parents, and district and school staff.”
The document refers to what the district calls the LCS Welcoming and Affirming Plan, which can be confidentially filled out and sent to schools by parents and students, for guidance on meeting accommodation needs for students.
The district documentation includes a focus on prioritizing accommodations for “the student’s preferences on who is allowed to know they are transgender.” The policy itself does not require the students be identified in the parental notifications, and the sample text for said notifications did not include a portion for student names.
WFLA.com has reached out to Leon County Schools for comment on the policy. The Florida Department of Education has also been contacted to learn their position on the policy.