Story at a glance
- Florida school board members Tuesday evening voted unanimously to place “disclaimer stickers” on one high school’s yearbook featuring images of a walkout protesting the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law in March.
- School officials had originally planned to cover the images and captions of the walkout in the yearbook to avoid speculation that it had been a school-sanctioned event.
- Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, officially titled the Parental Rights in Education law, bars educators from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Florida school board members Tuesday evening voted unanimously to abandon a plan to cover up photographs and written captions of one high school’s “Don’t Say Gay” protests in its yearbook – a measure originally proposed by school officials wishing to avoid speculation that the demonstration had been a school-sponsored event.
Lyman High School in Longwood, Fla., made headlines this week after a statement from its principal announcing a delay in the school’s distribution of yearbooks began circulating online.
According to the statement, yearbook “pictures and descriptions” of a student walkout against the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in March “did not meet school board policy” and should have been “caught earlier in the review process.”
Lyman Principal Michael Hunter wrote that the school had decided to cover the yearbook images rather than replace them to avoid “substantial cost and delay.”
The yearbook’s faculty adviser told the Orlando Sentinel that school officials had asked her if the photos and captions of the walkout – one of many student-led demonstrations held that month to protest what is officially known as the Parental Rights in Education law – could be covered up with stickers.
Under the law, which was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) shortly after the walkout, primary school teachers in Florida are barred from engaging in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Public school educators through high school are prohibited from addressing either topic in a manner that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for their students, and parents have greater authority to take legal action against school districts believed to be in violation of the law set to take effect July 1.
During a meeting of the Seminole County School Board Tuesday evening, board members voted unanimously to place “disclaimer stickers” on the yearbook page in question clarifying that the walkout was not sanctioned by the school. Images of the page posted online show students holding rainbow LGBTQ+ pride flags. In one photo, a student holds a sign with the words “Love is Love” above her head.
“This is the most ridiculous thing,” school board Vice Chair Abby Sanchez said Tuesday during the meeting. “These are our children – we need to do what’s best for them.”
A motion made by school board Chair Amy Pennock to purchase disclaimer stickers rather than stickers to cover the entirety of the yearbook page was met with unanimous approval.
“As students, I’m proud of you for bringing it to our attention,” Sanchez said following the vote, addressing Lyman High School students who attended the meeting. “It’s important to know that every day we learn from you guys – there’s not a day that we don’t. So don’t ever lose your voice.”