afterAnd the superintendent’s plan to cover up a page where students wave rainbow flags and “Love is Love” signs during a strike by parents against Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” law over yearbook censorship has been dismissed.
The superintendent told the committee that the page violated their policy by appearing to support student expulsion. Full-page stickers have already arrived and will be added before the yearbooks this week, she said.
Seminole County Board of Education members rejected the plan Tuesday night and voted 5-0 to order smaller stickers that do not cover the words and pictures on the page, and March protests over the Florida Parental Rights Education Act outside Lyman High School explained that it was not approved. .
Board Chairman Amy Pennock, applauded by the crowd, said, “I am delighted to be able to pay for another sticker to show that this is not a school-sponsored event.”
Florida Bill,Classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity is prohibited from Kindergarten to Grade 3.
Students from a school in Longwood, near Orlando, responded to the censorship plan by posting the hashtag “#stopthestickers” on social media.
Lawmakers, including Democrat Carlos G. Smith, Florida’s first LGBTQ Latino congressman, tweeted: “Censorship is a direct result of the law these students protested. #WeWill NotBeErased in this ‘free state. # WeWillNotBeErased in this ‘free state.'”
The governor frequently refers to “Florida’s free state” at his press conferences.
“We are now working globally on this,” complained Board Vice Chairman Abby Sanchez, who offered to help pay for the smaller stickers. She said, “It’s the most ridiculous thing. These kids are our kids! We have to do the right thing for them.”
More than 30 students, parents and teachers voiced opposition to the sticker plan. Yearbook employee Sara Ward told the board that it was “silencing the LGBTQ Plus community and the journalist community.”
Superintendent Serita Beamon explained her decision, saying, “I want to make it clear to all students that this is not about the Lyman High School administration trying to target all students and silence any voices.”
She denied covering the entire page as a violation of the First Amendment or the committee’s policy to authorize prior restrictions on school-sponsored publications.
Beamon said, “There are statements that are prohibited. These include statements that have the potential to cause significant disruption or materially interfere with school activities or the educational process,” Beamon said.
The board didn’t have it.
Board member Karen Almond witnessed the peaceful student exit firsthand and said there were no issues with the yearbook page.
“We all make mistakes,” Sanchez said. “As a student, I’m proud that you aroused our interest.”
Faculty advisor Danielle Pomeranz said students are doing their job by documenting what happened on campus. She reassured the committee that students can order smaller stickers and add them in time so they can receive their yearbooks this week.
Yearbook employee Skye Tiedemann summed up the night to a clear victory for a student speech.
“Don’t be afraid to talk, because students have the opportunity to change things,” Tiedemann said.