One of the many negative impacts of Florida's newly enacted "don't say gay" law is the removal of a 12-minute video that teaches middle and high school students about preventing bullying and supporting their LGBTQ+ peers.
The Duval school district also plans to reduce an LGBTQ+ support guide drastically, and the school board will vote Monday on a policy that could require schools to notify parents if their students wish to change their names or pronouns on unofficial records, including yearbooks and ID cards, according to Jacksonville Today.
These actions are primarily in response to Florida's Parental Rights in Education law (commonly known as "don't say gay"), which restricts how schools can teach about sexual orientation and gender identity. Parents say the law gives them control over their children's education, but critics call it discriminatory and unnecessary.
In a review of internal district emails, Jacksonville Today found an email from a Duval Schools federal grant coordinator raising concerns about removing the anti-bullying video.
"Here is what the students have access to for training," the person wrote to the district's policy team in April.
"I just wanted to make sure you both have a look before taking it down," she wrote, along with screenshots from the video about how to support LGBTQ+ peers and respond to bullying.
When asked about the deletion, district spokesperson Tracy Pierce told Jacksonville Today, "The materials you referenced have been removed for legal review to ensure the content complies with recent state legislation."
This removal comes after the district removed a 37-page LGBTQ+ Support Guide last fall and drafted consolidated support guidance that removes many of the explicit protections for transgender students. LGBTQ+ advocates say disappearing resources send a dangerous message to vulnerable students.
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The now-disappeared video, specifically created for students, was developed with funds from a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant, said Scott Sowell, a Gay-Straight Alliance faculty sponsor.
"The video was co-written by some students, and so it had very student-appropriate and student-specific language that was, you know, teenagers talking to other teenagers," Sowell told Jacksonville Today.
Sowell warns that removing the video deprives young people of vital support.
"It's one critical resource that is no longer available to teachers to help support students," he said.