JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The CEO of JASMYN, a group that provides resources for the LGBTQ+ community, addressed the Duval County School Board during Tuesday’s meeting — following DCPS’ decision to end its decades-long services agreement with the organization.
Last week, the District cut ties with JASMYN over a social media post from the organization that showed images of an adult novelty card game, marketed toward those 18 years or older. The game has players match cartoon images of male genitals.
After communicating with JASMYN about the post, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene took action, which she explained during Tuesday’s Board meeting.
“I personally called the executive director of JASMYN and I shared with them that I would be initiating a termination, which under our contract, we must give them a 30-day notice,” Greene said.
Cindy Watson, the CEO and executive director of JASMYN, addressed what was posted to Instagram.
“The images associated with the adult card game were used in a program for young adults to destigmatize HIV, promote testing and promote proper condom use and sexual safety. To be clear, these activities were never used with minors,” Watson said.
Still, Watson conceded that the images were posted on the group’s public-facing Instagram page, a site that only requires users to be 13 and older.
“Once alerted to the social media posting, JASMYN immediately removed the images and set in place a more stringent social media protocol to ensure that our media is suitable for all age groups,” Watson said.
While many members of the public praised Greene’s move, others said it would rob vulnerable students of a valuable resource.
For Sandalwood teacher Alex Ingram, it was the last straw in what he sees as an anti-LGBTQ+ trend by the administration.
“I am hereby giving my resignation to this Board today,” Ingram said. “I will not be part of a bigoted organization that marginalizes step-by-step our most vulnerable kids in the middle of a housing crisis,” Ingram told the Board.
It’s important to note that the superintendent said the district is committed to supporting and providing the same resources to LGBTQ+ students and staff.
Though the JASMYN controversy was not mentioned, a group of organizations, including the Jacksonville Public Education fund, 904ward, United Way, the LGBTQ Community Fund for Northeast Florida, One JAX, the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, the Dolores Barr Weaver Policy Center, Teach for America, City Year, Read USA and the Miller Families issued a joint statement in support of the LGBTQ+ youth in the local community.
As a group of community stakeholders, we are concerned for the wellbeing of our LGBTQ+ youth in our community, whose voices may feel forgotten or lost.
To our beloved youth who identify as LGBTQ+, we want you to know that you are loved, we see you, and we remain committed to supporting you. Every one of you in the LGBTQ+ community is uniquely beautiful and worthy, and there is a strong coalition of vocal, actionable support behind you that remains committed to advocating with you and being a champion for you. No matter what, we will continue to stand beside you.
Please continue to reach out to the people and organizations you trust in your schools and in the community for support wherever and whenever you need it. Anyone can also dial the 2-1-1 helpline at any time to access support services through the United Way of Northeast Florida, as well as the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.Joint statement from The Jacksonville Public Education fund, 904Ward, United Way & nine other local organizations