BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – One of the most tense Brevard County school board meetings in recent years, parents and family members demonstrated against the district’s transgender guidelines, which in 2021 read that all students were allowed to dress, access bathrooms and locker rooms and play sports consistent with their gender identity.
The district first passed a nondiscrimination policy in 2016 and in February, the board’s vote was split updating language the district says to be up to date with state and federal law.
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“We had students displaying hate against their LGBTQ peers in the hallways of our schools,” board member Jennifer Jenkins said.
“I think what’s best for students, including our transgender students, in particular, is to not open wide the doors when it comes to restrooms and locker rooms,” board member Katye Campbell said.
Campbell, representing south Brevard, is one of three school board seats on the ballot this election season, including board chair Misty Belford who is also running for re-election, and Cheryl McDougall of central Brevard who is not seeking another term.
“We need to protect our children, protect our students from discrimination,” Families for Safe Schools president Jabari Hosey said.
Families For Safe Schools is a group campaigning to influence voters to choose the opposite candidates rival group Moms For Liberty is endorsing.
Gov. Ron DeSantis supported Moms For Liberty at the group’s event in Tampa last month.
“We just need common sense because a lot of this stuff is not rocket science,” DeSantis said.
Now, Florida’s education department is telling schools to ignore federal nondiscrimination guidance.
“We know that it is already happening -- students being present in the locker rooms of the opposite gender,” Moms for Liberty Brevard County chair Carrie Gerace said. “We are concerned as parents, for the safety and well-being of all students involved.”
Brevard Public Schools said it’s now reviewing the state’s memo.
“Our children’s education has become a tool or a talking point that can be used to manipulate political influence, and it shouldn’t be,” Hosey said.
Primary elections are on Aug. 23 with early voting starting on Saturday.
“School board races, themselves, are not impacting student education,” Gerace said. “Teachers should not be bringing politics into the classroom.”