The Leon County Schools LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee met May 10 at the Aquilina Howell Center to discuss the “Inclusive School Guide for LCS Employees” as it relates to the LGBTQ+ community.
The LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee is made up of 15 members and has been approved by both the superintendent and the school board. The purpose of the meeting was to develop a guide for LCS employees to be trained to help navigate laws, policies, and regulations pertaining to LGBTQ+ students.
Assistant Superintendent of School Management Alan Cox facilitated the committee’s review process.
The Committee reviewed the legal section of the “Guide to the Inclusive School for LCS Employees” modifying various parts, including the requirement that teachers use the students‘ preferred name and pronoun found on the information system on students, the FOCUS portal.
The most relevant part of the document dealt with best practices related to LGBTQ+ students and policies governing dress code, changing rooms, names and pronouns.
The committee has agreed to allow students to dress in a manner consistent with the dress code that reflects their gender identity and gender expression. As for fluent students, they are allowed to dress in either gender dress code depending on the identity they are expressing that day.
Asked about the dress code for jewelry and makeup, Jessica Chapman, the principal of Sail High School, said it would be “a big no no” for students to wear offensive clothes and jewelry. The example of a dress code violation given by Ms. Chapman was a student wearing a Confederate flag on a collar.
In addition, the Committee discussed best practices regarding locker rooms and transgender students. The committee has come to the conclusion that transgender students will be allowed to use the locker room of their expressed identity on a case-by-case basis.
They also clarified that all students would be allowed to request an individual changing room without having to explain any particular reason.
The last topic discussed before concluding the meeting was nouns and pronouns. As previously mentioned, parents or legal age students can change students’ preferred names and pronouns in the FOCUS portal. If the student and parents disagree about changing the preferred pronouns on FOCUS, teachers should let the administration know so they can have a conversation with the parents. This conversation could include recommendations to guidance counselors, therapists, and in extreme cases, involve the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The committee will meet again to complete the second half of the “Inclusive School Guide for LCS Employees” on May 25.