School district responds to so-called 'Don't Say Gay' law with transgender reporting rule

The plan was created in response to the "Parental Rights in Education" law.

July 27, 2022, 9:40 PM

Transgender students in Lee County School District in Florida who want to be identified by teachers and principals with pronouns that correspond with their gender identity will now have to fill out a Gender Support Plan.

"If a student does complete a gender support plan, which will by law require their parents' involvement, it is a confidential document and available only to the school counselor and student," said Rob Spicker, the assistant director of media relations and public information at Lee County Schools.

Without a completed gender support plan, with a parent's signature, school staff will use the student’s name and gender as it is identified in the school's system. Students who are 18 or older will not be required to have a parent’s signature.

Local parent Crystal Czyscon told ABC affiliate WZVN that she believed the document was discriminatory and “frightening," fearing that students may be singled out.

The plan, a copy of which was acquired by WZVN, is to be filled out between a student and their counselor. It asks questions like whether the parents know about the student's trans or nonbinary status, whether the student has support at home, how public is the student's gender status, which school employees will be designated support systems and what will be the plan if a child is outed.

PHOTO: Transgender Flag
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In defense of the district, Spicker said the plan is tended to protect LGBTQ students and denied that the plan is some form of registry of trans students. It is not required for trans students to fill out the form, he said. However, if they do not fill it out, they may only be identified by school faculty with their gender assigned at birth.

The move comes amid the implementation of the Parental Rights in Education law , dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" law by critics. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis in March.

It bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and states that any instruction on those topics cannot occur "in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards," according to the legislation, HB 1557.

Under this law, parents can also decline any mental, emotional and physical health services 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 disclosure would subject the student to abuse, abandonment or neglect."

The law also requires parents to be involved if a transgender student seeks to have the school 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 law. It was intended to outline how LGBTQ students will be protected by the district in a way that follows the guidelines of the new law, Spicker said.

"The School District of Lee County’s Civil Rights and Equity Guide was developed to protect the rights of all students," he said. "The guide helps our school staff manage that request to protect the student and follow the law."

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