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Transgender issues rattle Florida schools

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
Jeanette Jennings, mother of transgender teen advocate Jazz Jennings, speaks at a press conference in the Florida Capitol on Monday, February 3, 2020, against a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to provide minors with hormone therapy or to perform sex reassignment surgery.
Jeanette Jennings, mother of transgender teen advocate Jazz Jennings, speaks at a press conference in the Florida Capitol on Monday, February 3, 2020, against a bill that would make it a felony for doctors to provide minors with hormone therapy or to perform sex reassignment surgery. [ SAMANTHA J. GROSS | Times/Herald ]
Published Mar. 16
Updated Mar. 16

Florida school districts lately have found themselves at the crux of a battle over transgender student rights. Residents have criticized new anti-discrimination guidelines in the Brevard County school system, for instance, and the Volusia County School Board rejected a resolution in support of LGBTQ students. Now the issue has popped up in the state Legislature. Read on for the latest on that story and other Florida education news.

State lawmakers want to ban transgender female students from participating in school-sponsored sports competitions. Transgender rights activists labeled the bills as bigotry. The House version comes before its first committee on Wednesday.

More Tallahassee action

Legislation to mandate daily moments of silence in public schools is headed to the House floor. It passed last year, too, but didn’t get out of the Senate, Florida Politics reports.

Should school board members be paid? State lawmakers consider asking voters to decide, WEAR reports.

Bills are filed to make it easier for schools to use solar energy. They are not likely to go far, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Florida parents currently can choose to remove their children from sex education courses. New legislation would have them opt in, instead, WUSF reports.

Lawmakers have proposed expanding broadband service into underserved areas. They’re still debating how to fund the initiative, which was highlighted as some students struggled for access to online learning, Florida Politics reports.

Bright Futures legislation is on today’s schedule. The Senate Education Committee will take up a revamped version of SB 86, an overhaul of Bright Futures scholarships, when it meets at 12:30 p.m. Here’s a preview from the News Service of Florida. • The House Early Learning and Elementary Education subcommittee will review bills on charter school authorization and “Schools of Hope” when it meets at 9:30 a.m. • The House Post-Secondary Education subcommittee will consider a bill on testing and civics education when it meets at 1 p.m.

Coronavirus concerns

How close is too close? Researchers suggest keeping social distance of 3 feet in school might have the same effect as 6 feet, as long as other protocols are in place, the NY Times reports. Some educators question whether Florida schools ever achieved 6 feet, WINK reports.

It’s spring break! Attendance at Florida’s theme parks is booming Are you following health safety protocols?

Graduation time is near. The University of South Florida announced it will have in-person ceremonies at Tropicana Field.

Florida aims to fully reopen its schools. Teacher union leaders say it can’t happen without more effort to improve teacher pay and extend work contracts, WTSP reports.

Teachers have clamored for vaccinations. When the Palm Beach County school district opened special clinics for its employees, turnout was low, the Palm Beach Post reports.

If you don’t read any other story today ...

How far would you go to get on the homecoming court? An Escambia County elementary school assistant principal and her teen daughter were arrested on accusations of using the mother’s access to the school district’s computer systems to rig the election at her daughter’s high school, the Pensacola News-Journal reports.

Other school news

The Palm Beach County school district is taking a new direction on its strategic plan. Equity will be a guiding priority, the Palm Beach Post reports.

An Alachua County high school has a new principal. The previous one was removed amid an investigation into allowing students to be interviewed without parental consent, WCJB reports.

“Unfair and unwarranted.” A Duval County charter school principal has some choice words about her abrupt dismissal, WJXT reports.

The Martin County school district has yet to raise teacher salaries. Its current proposal would lift base pay to $44,900, WFLX reports.

What’s in a name? Duval County residents rally to rename a high school that honors Confederate general Robert E. Lee, WJXT reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s the link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... Another Pasco County student has won an American Idol golden ticket. Here’s Zach D’Onofrio singing the Beatles.