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Despite public outcry, LGBTQ+ poster will remain in Lee County Schools for now

Posted at 1:19 AM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 01:19:54-04

LEE COUNTY — Dozens more people had their voices heard Monday at the Lee County School Board meeting about a policy toward transgender students.

Most of them were calling for a controversial poster to be removed, but we learned, it’s not that simple.

All of the debate we’ve heard over the past two nights centers around this poster:

LGBTQ+ Poster
The LGBTQ+ poster Lee County has posted in several schools

That poster is part of the student Code of Conduct, and people have argued that Code should be changed.

Before the meeting even got underway, we met Linda Brown greeting people as they walked into the District building.

"I think it’s important to keep the bathrooms separated," said Brown.

Brown said she was blind-sided when she learned about the poster. It says "All students are allowed to access the restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity."

That's a statement that brought dozens more supporters and opponents to the microphone Tuesday.

“LGBTQ students need to be supported and respected, just like the rest of us. So I would like to thank the School Board for implementing this policy and these resources," said a senior from North Fort Myers High School.

“You’re letting them play creative by choosing a gender. It’s unacceptable," said a woman who claimed she's pulled her children out of Lee County Schools.

“Don’t decide what my children should think. Don’t teach them values I do not agree with," said Linda Elgin.

We asked the District when the poster was first added to the Code of Conduct. Staff pointed us to a virtual meeting from May 5th of 2020 where it was first discussed.

“We’ve also added in the back section a section on LGBTQ and the rights that LGBTQ students have in our schools," said Director of Positive Prevention Chuck Bradley during the May 5th meeting.

shellie taylor, graduation coordinator: “We added the Equity Florida, which is really, it’s a full page poster that Mr. Bradley was talking about prior to, in the presentation," said Graduation Coordinator Shellie Taylor during the May 5th meeting.

The Board went on to approve the Code of Conduct unanimously, but Board Member Melissa Giovannelli tells us, after hearing from the community, she wants to change it.

"I am actually making a motion to get it out of the schools presently, even now, as we speak, the last couple months of school. We’ll see if that happens tonight," said Giovannelli before the meeting.

But it didn’t happen, because the Board Attorney said there needs to be a public hearing with 21 days notice. So Giovannelli at least made her position known.

"If I can’t do that, I can publicly state that I would rescind my vote at this time based on how it was put in the Code of Conduct without community stakeholders," said Giovannelli during the meeting.

District staff has recommended that the poster be removed from the Code of Conduct for next school year.