Florida students win yearbook flap over “Don’t Say Gay” bill

May 11, 2022, 6:35 AM | Updated: 7:01 am

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — After an outcry from students and parents over yearbook censorship, a Florida school board overruled their superintendent’s plan to cover up a page showing students waving rainbow flags and a “love is love” sign during a walkout against the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

The superintendent told the board that the page violated their policy by seeming to endorse a student walkout. Stickers to cover the entire page had already arrived and would be added before yearbooks are handed out this week, she said.

Seminole County School Board members rejected that plan Tuesday night, voting 5-0 to order smaller stickers that don’t cover up the page’s words and pictures while explaining that the March protest over the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill outside Lyman High School was unauthorized.

“I would be happy out of my own personal pocket to pay for different stickers to say this was not a school-sponsored event,” Board Chair Amy Pennock said to applause from the crowd.

The Florida bill, signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in March, bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade.

Students at the school in Longwood, which is near Orlando, responded to the censorship plan by creating a hashtag “#stopthestickers” in social media.

It caught the attention of lawmakers including Democratic Rep. Carlos G. Smith, Florida’s first LGBTQ Latino legislator, who tweeted that the “censorship is a direct result of the law these students were protesting. #WeWillNotBeErased in this so-called ‘free state.'”

The governor frequently refers to the “free state of Florida” in his news conferences.

“We’re now all over the world on this,” complained board vice-chair Abby Sanchez, who offered to help pay for the smaller stickers. “This is the most ridiculous thing. These are our children! We need to do what’s right for them.”

More than 30 students, parents and teachers spoke out in opposition to the sticker plan. “It is silencing the LGBTQ-plus community and silencing the journalistic community,” Sara Ward, a student on the yearbook staff, told the board.

“I want to be clear to each and every student that this was not about the Lyman High School administration looking to try and target any student, to try and silence any voice,” Superintendent Serita Beamon said as she tried to explain her decision.

She denied that covering up the entire page would violate the First Amendment or the board’s policy, which she said authorizes prior restraint of school sponsored publications.

“There is some speech that is prohibited. And that includes speech that is likely to cause substantial disruption or that materially interferes with school activities or the educational process,” Beamon said.

The board wasn’t having it.

Board member Karen Almond said she had personally witnessed the student walkout, which was peaceful, and said there’s nothing wrong with the yearbook page.

“We all make mistakes. … We own up to it, and we try to do what we can to fix it,” Sanchez said. “As students, I am proud of you for bringing it to our attention.”

Faculty advisor Danielle Pomeranz said her students were just doing their job by documenting an event that happened on the campus. She assured the board that the smaller stickers could be ordered and added in time for students to get their yearbooks this week.

Yearbook staffer Skye Tiedemann summed up the night as a clear win for student speech.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up,” Tiedemann said, “because students, they do have a chance to change things.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

French airport workers strike for higher pay amid inflation

PARIS (AP) — Flights from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and other French airports faced disruptions Friday as airport workers held a strike and protests to demand salary hikes to keep up with inflation. The labor action is the latest trouble to hit global airports this summer, as travel resurges after two years of […]
1 hour ago
A fisherman Ng Koon-hee catches a fish in Tai O village of Hong Kong, Saturday, June 25, 2022. The ...
Associated Press

Hong Kong fishermen keep old ways, 25 years after handover

HONG KONG (AP) — Ng Koon-yau calmly pilots his small fishing boat through the azure waters of the South China Sea. The 79-year-old has been fishing ever since he can remember. Ng and his 76-year-old brother Ng Koon-hee came to Hong Kong from Taishan in Guangdong province, across the border in the Chinese mainland, as […]
1 hour ago
A currency trader walks by the screen showing the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and Sou...
Associated Press

Asian shares mostly lower after pessimistic ‘tankan’ survey

TOKYO (AP) — Asian benchmarks were mostly lower on Friday, echoing a decline on Wall Street, after a quarterly report by Japan’s central bank rekindled worries about the world’s third largest economy. Shares fell in Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney and Shanghai. Markets were closed in Hong Kong for a holiday. Recent data suggest global growth is […]
1 hour ago
FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for ...
Associated Press

Trial for US basketball star begins in Moscow-area court

MOSCOW (AP) — U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is set to go on trial in a Moscow-area court Friday, about 4 1/2 months after she was arrested on cannabis possession charges at an airport while traveling to play for a Russian team. The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist could face up […]
1 day ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint news conference with Indonesian President Joko Wid...
Associated Press

Putin’s week: Facing NATO expansion, West’s unity on Ukraine

It has not been an easy week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He took his first foreign trip since the invasion of Ukraine to shore up relations with troublesome Central Asian allies. He watched as NATO declared Moscow its main enemy and invited Russia’s neighbors Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. And he was […]
1 day ago
A roadside cotton candy vendor drinks water from a plastic pouch as he waits for customers at a wee...
Associated Press

India bans some single-use plastic as part of broader plan

NEW DELHI (AP) — India banned some single-use or disposable plastic products Friday as part of a federal plan to phase out the ubiquitous material in the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people. For the first stage, it has identified 19 plastic items that aren’t very useful but have a high potential to become litter […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
Florida students win yearbook flap over “Don’t Say Gay” bill