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Florida schools aim to balance inclusivity, state law on LGBTQ issues

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
 
Students from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek walk out of the school building Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in support of a trans student who plays on the girls volleyball team. The school principal and other administrators were removed from their positions for allowing the student to participate in the activity. Florida passed a law prohibiting trans girls to play on female sports teams.
Students from Monarch High School in Coconut Creek walk out of the school building Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in support of a trans student who plays on the girls volleyball team. The school principal and other administrators were removed from their positions for allowing the student to participate in the activity. Florida passed a law prohibiting trans girls to play on female sports teams. [ JOE CAVARETTA | South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]
Published Dec. 1, 2023

The big story: Florida school districts have been grappling with ways to craft guidelines on how to deal with LGBTQ+ student issues in a way that shows students compassion while also adhering to increasingly restrictive state laws.

They’ve faced demands from people in the LGBTQ+ community to not only write rules that are inclusive and fair, but also publicize them so, at the very least, everyone knows what to expect.

Tampa Bay area districts have revised their guidelines over the past several months. They don’t always agree on what the law requires them to do. Read more here.

One area where the state has been clear is its ban on transgender students’ participation in girls’ high school sports. It’s become a point of debate in Broward County, where the district has removed five employees from a high school that allowed a transgender girl to play on its volleyball team.

Two years ago, members of the Broward County School Board spoke against the law. In this instance, though, the board is unlikely to fight the state, the Miami Herald reports.

Hot topics

Sarasota scandal: The chairperson of Florida’s Republican Party, Christian Ziegler, is under police investigation amid allegations of sexual battery by a woman who claimed to be in a long-term consensual relationship with Ziegler and his wife, Sarasota County School Board member and Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler. More from the Herald-Tribune, Miami Herald.

Health survey: When Florida backed out of a federal teen health behavior study, state Department of Education officials said they would conduct their own more tailored version. More than a year later, there are still no results, WFTS reports.

Free speech: A Broward County private school fired a teacher over her social media posts about the Israel-Hamas war, WPLG reports.

DeSantis-Newsom debate: Education topics, including book bans and literacy rates, were a topic of the televised debate between the two governors. Politifact fact checked some of their statements.

Construction projects: Ringling College of Art and Design kicked off the public phase of its $175 million fundraising campaign to support new buildings, as well as scholarships and faculty development, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Cafeteria concerns: A Marion County middle school is looking into possible food contamination after one student found a worm in prepackaged apple slices and others complained of feeling ill after lunch, WCJB reports.

From the police blotter ... A Palm Beach County elementary school after-care employee was arrested on accusations of sexual assault of a minor teen, WPTV reports. • A Polk County substitute teacher was arrested on allegations of sending sexually explicit videos of himself to two students, the Ledger reports.

Don’t miss a story. Yesterday’s roundup is just a click away.

Before you go ... Saw a new music video featuring Norah Jones and someone called Laufey, and checked it out. Wanted to know more about Laufey, who shares a name with the mother of Loki in Norse mythology, and learned she’s a star in Iceland who’s been nominated for a 2024 Grammy.

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Spotlight on education

The public is invited to a community conversation about the future of Florida public schools on Tuesday, Jan. 30, at the Tampa Theatre, hosted by the Tampa Bay Times. In the second installment of the Spotlight Tampa Bay series, Times journalists will moderate a discussion by experts, followed by a panel featuring students. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Proceeds benefit the Times’ Journalism Fund. To purchase tickets, click here.