A Florida school district is responding to a law signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, allowing students who want to be identified by their preferred pronouns and names to fill out a Gender Support Plan that will require notification of the student's parent or guardian.
"If a student does complete a gender support plan, which will by law require their parents' involvement, it is a confidential document and available only to the school counselor and student," Lee County School District Assistant Director of Media Relations and Public Information Rob Spicker said of his district's new policy, according to ABC News.
The district's new policy comes in response to the "Parental Rights in Education" bill, which DeSantis signed earlier this month. The bill, which critics have branded the "Don't Say Gay Law," states that "classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."
The bill also has provisions requiring parental notification if a student requests to be referred to by their preferred name and pronoun.
Lee County students will have to fill out a Gender Support Plan with their counselors, asking questions such as whether their parents are aware of their status, whether the student has support at home, how public their preferred name and pronoun are, what school employees are designated as support systems for the student and what will happen if the child is outed. The plan requires a parent's signature; otherwise the school will continue to refer to the student by his or her legal name and gender.
Spicker said that the new policy is intended to protect LGBTQ students, noting that students are only required to fill out the form if they want school staff to use their preferred name and pronoun.
The new law has spurred widespread backlash from critics, who say the Governor's legislation discriminates against LGBTQ youth and will undermine their ability to access support and mental health resources.
DeSantis has shrugged aside the criticism, however, arguing that the new law will ensure students are receiving an education and not being indoctrinated by what he called "woke" politics.
"I don't care what Hollywood says. I don't care what big corporations say," the Florida governor said earlier this month. "Here I stand. I am not backing down."