School Climate & Safety

Fla. School Board Reverses Decision to Censor Yearbook Photos From ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Protest

By Skyler Swisher, Orlando Sentinel — May 11, 2022 2 min read
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida House Republicans advanced a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, rejecting criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Seminole County School Board scrapped a plan Tuesday to put stickers over yearbook photos of students protesting against Florida’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill, responding to a public backlash against the move.

The school board voted 5-0 not to obscure the photos and captions of a walkout protest featured in Lyman High School’s yearbook.

Instead, an alternative sticker will be placed on the page that explains the protest was student led and not sponsored by the school.

Amy Pennock, the school board chair, and other board members said they would purchase the new stickers that wouldn’t cover the yearbook staff’s work.

“We all make mistakes. ... We own up to it, and we try to do what we can to fix it,” said Abby Sanchez, the school board’s vice chair. “As students, I am proud of you for bringing it to our attention.”

Yearbook staffers, LGBTQ advocates and other public speakers told the board that censoring the yearbook would erase a moment in Lyman High School’s history and stifle free speech.

“It is silencing the LGBTQ-plus community and silencing the journalistic community,” said Sara Ward, a Lyman High student who worked on the yearbook.

Danielle Pomeranz, the yearbook’s faculty adviser, told the board her students were only doing their job of documenting an important event that happened on campus. She said she thinks the yearbook can still be distributed to students by the end of the week. Students were supposed to start receiving their yearbooks on Monday.

See Also

Reading & Literacy High School Paper Publishes Article on Student in Porn Industry After Censorship Fight
Sasha Jones, April 30, 2019
3 min read

The photos in question show students holding rainbow flags and a “love is love” sign. Accompanying captions include quotes from students sharing their views on the legislation and why they participated in the protest.

Superintendent Serita Beamon said the section didn’t make clear that the protest was student led, and covering the content was viewed as the best way to comply with board policy and get the yearbook to students in a timely fashion.

“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,” she said. “This instead is a situation where there was an issue that was not caught earlier in the required review by the administration.”

See Also

Curriculum 7 Signs That Your School Newspaper Risks Censorship
Catherine Gewertz, October 17, 2019
2 min read

Students told the board yearbooks at Hagerty and Oviedo high schools also have sections in their yearbooks mentioning protests against the “don’t say gay” bill, but those publications were not censored.

Students across the state walked out of class to protest HB 1557, officially titled Parental Rights in Education but called the “don’t say gay” bill by opponents. The legislation bans classroom instruction on “sexual orientation or gender identity” in grades kindergarten through three or in a manner that is not “age appropriate.”

Copyright (c) 2022, Orlando Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Personalized Learning Webinar
Expanding Teacher Impact: Scaling Personalized Learning Across Districts
Explore personalized learning strategies that transform classrooms and empower educators.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
How to Leverage Virtual Learning: Preparing Students for the Future
Hear from an expert panel how best to leverage virtual learning in your district to achieve your goals.
Content provided by Class
English-Language Learners Webinar AI and English Learners: What Teachers Need to Know
Explore the role of AI in multilingual education and its potential limitations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Opinion School Police Officers Should Do More Than Just Surveil and Control. Here’s How
SROs should be integrated into schools as a means to support students and create a safe, humanizing environment.
H. Richard Milner IV
5 min read
opinion sro school police 80377388 01
Dynamic Graphics/Getty
School Climate & Safety 4 Tips to Keep Students' Misbehavior From Sapping Up Class Time
Students' misbehavior has become one of educators' top concerns. Schools need a more deliberate approach to handle it, an expert says.
6 min read
Image of young students in a classroom
Parker Davis and Alina Lopez, right, talk about words and acts that cause happiness during morning circle in teacher Susannah Young's 2nd grade class at Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 4, 2017. Social-emotional learning has been found in research to have a positive effect on students' behavior, but it's not a quick fix for misbehavior.
Ramin Rahimian for Education Week-File
School Climate & Safety Is Virtual Learning a New Form of Exclusionary Discipline?
Some districts are assigning students to virtual learning as a punishment for misbehavior.
5 min read
High school student working on computer at home.
School Climate & Safety Opinion How to Reduce Gun Violence? Teachers Share Their Ideas
Schools alone can't banish gun violence, but they can invest in ways to strengthen the community and resist discrimination, which can help.
15 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."