Florida School Board Reverses Plan to Censor “Don’t Say Gay” Page in Yearbook

A Florida school board has ruled that photos of student protests against an antiLGBTQ law in Florida will not be censored from high school yearbooks. This is a reverse of an action taken by the county superintendent.

A page from the Lyman High school yearbook, located in the Seminole County Education District, showed how students left classrooms earlier in this year. to voice their collective opposition against HB 1557. Opponents of the legislation called it the “Don’t Say Gay” to highlight how it stifled conversation in classrooms.

The bill was passed and has now become law (though it is still not enforced). Teachers are prohibited from discussing sexual and gender identity topics. in younger elementary-aged classrooms, and puts heavy restrictions on lessons for older students, requiring discussions to be “age appropriate” — a vague definition that could result in costly litigation from anti-LGBTQ parents who believe their children’s schools aren’t in compliance if AnyThese discussions are part and parcel of lesson

Because the images in the Lyman High School yearbook depicted an event that wasn’t school-sanctioned, Superintendent Serita Beamon had initially planned to plaster stickers on that page in every copy of the yearbook, effectively making it impossible for anyone to view the images on that page.

During Wednesday’s school board meeting Beamon tried to defend her actions, saying they were not meant to censor student voices, but rather to communicate the district’s official stance that speech, which causes “substantial disruption” and “interferes with school activities or the educational process” is not condoned.

Students vehemently disagreed with Beamon’s viewpoint, and ultimately, the school board sided with them.

Initially, the school board appeared ready to uphold Beamon’s decision. However, after hearing from Lyman High School students who pointed out that Beamon’s decision was wrong, their minds were changed. the yearbook is both published by students and funded by them, too.

“Despite being school-owned and the technicalities of school policy, we can not take away that student right by not supporting the student press and student community as a whole,” yearbook editor Sara Ward told the board.

Ward also noted that a sticker covering up an entire page documenting what had happened during the school year would be “silencing the LGBTQ plus community, and silencing the journalistic community.”

Due to the students’ concerns and arguments, the board voted 5-0 to allow the page to be included in the yearbook without the proposed censorship. The school issued a small sticker explaining that the protest was not approved by them. would be allowedThe board also added

Karen Almond, a board member directed her comments to students. She praised them for fighting against the censorship images depicting peaceful protests that occurred earlier this year.

“We all make mistakes. … We own up to it, and we try to do what we can to fix it,” Almond said. “As students, I am proud of you for bringing it to our attention.”