Aug 17, 2022 - News

Sarasota schools change pronouns policy to follow "Don't Say Gay"

Illustration of a word balloon in the colors of the Pride flag with a no symbol drawing over it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Sarasota County students must now have their parents' permission to use a different name and pronouns at school, and staff are required to notify parents if a student comes out.

Driving the news: The district changed its policy ahead of this school year to align with Florida's Parental Rights in Education law, also called "Don't Say Gay" by critics.

Details: Under the district's new policy, staff are required to notify the school's principal and counselor and seek parental permission to start a "Gender Support Plan" if a student asks to be called by another name and/or pronouns, WUSF reports.

  • If the student's parent or guardian denies permission, they must be referred to by their given name and pronouns, according to the memo sent to teachers and staff.
  • "If a student tells us that (they) are gay/gender questioning/trans, etc. parent must be notified," the guidance reads, per the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Flashback: The school's previous policy adopted in 2018 said it was "up to the student, and the student alone, to share her/his/their identity."

The big picture: Other Tampa Bay school districts told WUSF they are either still revising their policies or are not planning to change them.

What they're saying: "The change is a win for parents, students, teachers and allows for the integrity of our public education institutions to be restored," Sarasota school board member Bridget Ziegler told the Herald-Tribune.

The other side: Booker High School history teacher Gail Foreman told WUSF that the policy has changed how she interacts with students.

  • "I have several kids that are transgender that have preferred names. And we had to tell them, if you want to use your preferred name, I have got to call guidance, and they're going to get a hold of your parents," she said.
  • "So guys, don't say anything to me, if you're not out at home."

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