JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Public School Defenders hosted a Pride celebration and rally on Tuesday at the Duval County School Board.
According to a release, the organization is calling on the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, Dr. Diana Greene, and the Duval County School Board, to “maintain a comprehensive LGBTQ+ Support Guide for students and families.”
The event showed support for the LGBTQ+ community and raised funds for local organizations such as JASMYN, a social services organization that offers a variety of programs and services for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults 13-29.
The meeting featured community discussions and called for a safe, affirming environment in Duval County schools.
One topic of discussion was the current changes in Florida made by Gov. DeSantis that directly impact the LGBTQ+ community -- such as the signing of the “Parental Rights in Education” bill -- dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics -- in March that forbids instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. The policy has drawn intense national scrutiny from critics who argue it marginalizes LGBTQ people.
A new 2022 policy in St. Johns County Schools was also adopted that requires employees to notify a student’s parents if that student wants to change their pronouns. This was announced around the same time the Parental Rights in Education bill was being debated in Tallahassee.
Recently, St. Johns County School District Media Advisory Committees recommended putting new restrictions on controversial books in its libraries. A small group of parents has appealed more than 50 district library books they say contain subjects that are inappropriate for children, such as suicide, gender identity and sex.
“Duval County Public School’s original LGBTQ Student Support Guide is under attack, with over half the guide planning to be erased for the next school year,” a post from Equality Florida said.
Equality Florida said they want to ensure Duval County provides a safe and inclusive environment for all LGBTQ students -- and is pushing a comprehensive LGBTQ Student Support Guide.
The rally began at 5 p.m. at the Duval County School Board.