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(LEE COUNTY, Fla.) — Transgender students in Florida’s Lee County School District who wish to be identified by teachers and principals with pronouns consistent with their gender identity will now be required to complete a Gender Support Plan.
“If a student completes a Gender Equality Support Plan, which by law will require parental input, this is a confidential document and available only to the school counselor and student. “said Rob Spicker, Deputy Director of Media Relations and Public Information. in Lee County schools.
Without a completed Gender Support Plan, with a parent’s signature, school personnel will use the student’s name and gender as identified in the school system. Students aged 18 or over will not be required to have a parent’s signature.
Local parent Crystal Czyscon told ABC affiliate WZVN she thought the document was discriminatory and “frightening”, fearing pupils were being targeted.
The plan, a copy of which has been acquired by WZVN, is to be completed between a student and their advisor. It asks questions such as whether parents are aware of the student’s trans or non-binary status, whether the student has support at home, how public is the student’s gender status, which school employees will be designated as support systems and what the plan will be if a child is taken out.
In defense of the district, Spicker said the plan was intended to protect LGBTQ students and denied that the plan is any form of trans student registry. It is not necessary for trans students to complete the form, he said. However, if they do not complete it, they can only be identified by school faculty with their assigned sex at birth.
The move comes amid the implementation of the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” Act by critics. The measure was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis in March.
It prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and states that any instruction on these subjects may not occur “in a manner that is not appropriate for the child.” ‘age or development of students in accordance with state standards’, according to legislation, HB 1557.
Under the law, parents can also opt out of any mental, emotional and physical health services made available to their children at school, and schools will be required to notify parents of their child’s use of school health services unless there is reason to believe “that the disclosure causes the student to be abused, abandoned or neglected.”
The law also requires parents to be involved if a transgender student seeks the school to use a preferred name or pronoun, Spicker noted.
The gender support plan is part of the school’s equity guide, which was created in response to the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act. It was intended to outline how LGBTQ students will be protected by the district in a manner that follows the guidelines of the new law, Spicker said.
“The Lee County School District’s Civil Rights and Equity Guide was developed to protect the rights of all students,” he said. “The guide helps our school staff manage this request to protect the student and comply with the law.”
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