Story at a glance
- Florida’s Education Department recently removed a webpage providing educators, parents and students with anti-bullying resources, including anti-LGBTQ+ bullying resources.
- The department took down the page after the Florida Capital Star, a right-wing online publication, asked education officials why the webpage included LGBTQ+-inclusive resources.
- A department official told Changing America the webpage is currently under review for "appropriateness," but did not indicate when that review would be completed.
Florida’s Department of Education (DOE) last week removed a webpage supplying anti-bullying resources for educators, parents and students that included links to LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.
The page was removed after the Florida Capital Star, a right-wing online publication, asked department officials why a webpage outlining anti-bullying defenses offered LGBTQ+-inclusive resources.
Jared Ochs, the department's director of communications, told Changing America the page was taken down "out of an abundance of caution" and external links were being reviewed for "appropriateness." He did not say when that review would be completed.
"Unfortunately, the links we reviewed were to U.S. DOE webpages that had previously provided helpful guidance and information, but now are being used as platforms for advocacy," he wrote in an email, adding that content embedded in external links can "change dramatically without our knowledge."
"We simply cannot vouch for the content of all of these external sources as we make sure resources align to standards and best practices. As a result, of the content found on the U.S. DOE website, we are now reviewing all links to the federal government on our website to make sure information is relevant, current, and appropriate," he wrote.
The Capital Star criticized the webpage’s inclusion of links to LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations like the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which works to end discrimination and bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity in K-12 schools.
The Capital Star described GLSEN as “part of a billion dollar network” that is “focused on initiatives that promote gender identity and transgenderism.”
Coined by anti-transgender activists, the word “transgenderism” is not commonly used by the trans community. According to the LGBTQ+ media advocacy group GLAAD, it’s used to “dehumanize transgender people and reduce who they are to ‘a condition.’”
The Capital Star also objected to the Education Department’s anti-bullying page including a link to StopBullying.gov, a federal website providing guidance to parents and school staff on ending bullying of all types, including anti-LGBTQ+ bullying.
The LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida condemned the webpage’s removal, demanding it be reinstated.
“Attacks on LGBTQ students from Tallahassee are fueling a toxic, dangerous environment on the ground,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said Monday in a statement.
“From the passage of explicitly anti-transgender legislation this year to proposed legislation that would jail doctors for providing lifesaving medical care to transgender children, a politically-motivated assault on the LGBTQ community is putting young people at risk” she added. “Vulnerable youth deserve better than a DeSantis Administration intent on putting them in harm’s way in order to score cheap political points.”
Florida earlier this year barred transgender female athletes from playing on girls’ sports teams at public schools.
Florida is not the only state to pull online LGBTQ+ resources from a state site, and Texas in October removed information about a suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ+ youth from the Department of Family and Protective Services website after one of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s primary challengers took aim at him for having it up. Abbot is up for reelection in November.
Florida’s Office of Safe Schools, from which the anti-bullying webpage was removed, was established in 2018 after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killed 17 and injured 17 others.
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