TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — School district guidelines in both Sarasota and Hillsborough County recommend teachers do not tell parents about students’ LGBTQ status, in seeming opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill currently winding through the Florida legislature.

Previous guidance on both federal and state education websites also made the same recommendations, or provided links to sites that did, though both have been removed or changed in recent months.

Hillsborough County Schools’ LGBTQ+ Critical Resource and Support Guide for Staff was revised and reissued in August 2021. It states “All LGBTQ+ students have the right to decide when and to whom their sexual orientation and gender identity is shared, including their parents, guardians, and/or family.”

“It is an unfortunate reality — LGBTQ+ youth commonly experience parental rejection because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the guide states. “Indeed, studies have shown approximately one-third of LGBTQ+ youth are victims of physical violence by a family member after the teen ‘comes out’ or their sexual orientation is disclosed.”

The guidance goes on to say disclosing that information could violate federal law.

Sarasota County Schools’ Gender Diverse Student Guidelines state, “it is up to the student, and the student alone, to share her/his/their identity. In the case of elementary-age students, often the student and parent are involved, however, this is on a case by case basis.”

Sarasota School Board member Thomas Edwards told 8 On Your Side that’s not how it works in reality.

“In all cases, regardless of topic, parents are notified — 100% of the time parents are notified,” Edwards said. “I’ve double checked this 1,000 times from Sunday. The only time a parent is not notified is when a child has indicated they could be harmed, physically or mentally. So in that particular case, CPS is notified and they notify the parent.”

The Florida Department of Education removed its anti-bullying website for review in December 2021, which linked to several LGBTQ advocacy groups and the federal website StopBullying.gov.

That site previously guided teachers to “be careful not to disclose or discuss sexual identity issues with parents or anyone else, without the young person’s prior permission, unless there is an immediate threat to their safety or wellbeing.”

The site appears to have been changed in August 2021, and now no longer contains that phrasing.