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Florida school districts target sexism in student dress codes

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state.
 
St Petersburg High School students, Haily Mateo16, (left) and Yaeya Addison, 16 arrive for the first day of the new school season on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. The Pinellas School Board is reviewing changes to the dress code after receiving complaints that it focuses too much on girls' clothing.
St Petersburg High School students, Haily Mateo16, (left) and Yaeya Addison, 16 arrive for the first day of the new school season on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. The Pinellas School Board is reviewing changes to the dress code after receiving complaints that it focuses too much on girls' clothing. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published March 9, 2022

The big story: School dress codes increasingly have come under fire as sexist across Florida over the past year.

Students and parents have complained in places including Duval and Martin counties that the rules focus primarily on what girls may and may not wear, with little attention to boys in similar clothing. Think tank tops as an example.

Critics further have argued that girls should not have to worry about whether they will distract boys when deciding what to put on each day, while boys carry no such burden. St. Johns County changed its policy to more neutral wording in August.

Now the Pinellas County School Board is poised to scrub gender references from its code of conduct, too. Board member Laura Hine said it astounded her how many times the existing policy referred to girls’ clothing, such as dresses and bra straps, as she signaled support for the changes, which are to go up for a vote later this spring. Read the story here.

Tallahassee action

Florida Senators vote on a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, during a legislative session at the Florida State Capitol, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Florida Senators vote on a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, during a legislative session at the Florida State Capitol, Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]

As expected, the controversial bill on gender lessons in elementary schools passed the Florida Senate. Two Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing the measure, which heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis for his anticipated signature. • Equality Florida leaders said they would look into legal action to stop the bill from being implemented, Florida Politics reports. • Meanwhile, teachers, students and parents were left to figure out what the provisions actually mean for them.

The White House quickly issued a statement deploring the measure as “hateful.” It warned that the state could lose federal funds as a result. “The Department of Education has made clear that all schools receiving federal funding must follow federal civil rights law, including Title IX’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Secretary Miguel Cardoña said in a statement. • Students around the state rallied against the measure before its passage. The student organizer of the statewide walkout, who was suspended for handing out Pride flags, had his suspension lifted as supporters rallied for his reinstatement, Flagler Live reports.

Plans to withhold $200 million from school districts that had strict mask mandates have changed. Lawmakers now are talking about creating a $200 million fund from other sources to reward the districts that didn’t have such policies, Florida Politics reports. They haven’t completed budget negotiations, though, so the legislative session will go into overtime, Florida Politics reports.

After more than a decade of trying ... Florida lawmakers have sent a proposal to the governor to make a semester-long financial literacy course a high school graduation requirement, the News Service of Florida reports.

Also headed to DeSantis’ desk ... Lawmakers approved a bill to stop the use of mechanical restraints, such as handcuffs, on students with disabilities, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Today in Tallahassee: The Senate is scheduled to convene at 10 a.m. Bills available on the special order calendar include HB 7 on individual freedom and race lessons, and HB 1467 on school board term limits and book challenges. • The House is set to meet at 10:30 a.m. Bills available for final consideration include SB 758 on charter schools, SB 1048 on testing, and SB 7044 on university accreditation and tenure.

Other school news

Sarasota County voters overwhelmingly extended their school district local option property tax. The one-mill additional tax will continue for another four years, the Herald-Tribune reports.

The Marion County School Board agreed to ask voters to extend their local option property tax. The tax generates about $28 million annually for special programs, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

New superintendents are completing their contract deals. The Lee County School Board has made a contract offer to its superintendent-select that’s more lucrative than the package earned by the departing district chief, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. • St. Lucie County’s new superintendent will make less than his predecessor, TC Palm reports.

The Broward County School Board approved its new superintendent’s proposed administrative reorganization. The plan calls for two new deputy superintendent positions earning more than $200,000 each, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The St. Johns County School Board okayed a new K-8 school in the northwest portion of the county. Slated to open in 2023, the school aims to ease crowding in other area schools, WJXT reports.

From the police blotter ... A Volusia County teen was arrested after allegedly being found with a loaded gun campus, WKMG reports. • An Escambia County teen faces charges on accusations he brought a rifle and ammunition to school, WEAR reports.

From the court docket ... The Florida Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by the former Palm Beach County principal who was fired over his comments regarding the Holocaust, the News Service of Florida reports.

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

Before you go ... Those ears!

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