FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s a discussion that has been on the table for months.
Whether or not the Lee County School Distrcit keeps its current code of conduct regarding LGBTQ+ students. In a packed auditorium, about 60 speakers gave comment during tonight’s meeting. After months of discussion, the school board came to a resolution regarding its student code of conduct. They’ve decided to omit the non-discrimination policy regarding gender identity and gender expression.
“Our students are still covered, everything is still in the student code of conduct," says Crystal Czyscon, SWFL Coalition for LGBTQ Youth. "The only thing that we really lost here was that one page guide but they are having the conversation about adding to it. They are recognizing the inequality in the examples they are using in the student code of conduct.”
Red lines had been added to it prior to last month’s meeting, indicating changes to be made. That code of conduct allows students to dress and use the restroom of the gender they identify with. Those opposed pointed out how there was not a new, revised LGBTQ+ page listed in the code of conduct before tonight’s meeting. They have also said it’s the policy they are opposing, believing the decision does not fall to the school. To group’s like the SWFL Coalition for LGBTQ Youth, the page listed in the code of conduct forms a “blanket of security.”
“The reality is my identity isn’t a hot button issue," says Abigail Reed with the SWFL Coalition for LGBTQ Youth. "All of these students’ identities are not a hot button issue, they will still be students within the district whether they are addressed or not. I think their identities need to be addressed because it would be doing them a grave disservice to not give them the support that they need.”
There have been changes made regarding pronouns… such as 'his or her' to 'their' and 'he or she' to 'they.' But the discussion may only just be getting started.
“These resources are integral since we didn’t change anything about the student code of conduct," said Reed. "We do need to be releasing resources to students within the county so that they understand what the student code of conduct means for them in their everyday lives.”
“Those students are still now walking into these school rooms, recognizing that they have been determined unworthy to have protections for them in the student code of conduct," said Czyscon. "This is not good. You have not heard the last of us, this is just the end of this meeting.”
The newly adopted student code of conduct will take into effect, beginning June 9. The school council board plan to hold discussions with those LGBTQ+ groups regarding potential improvements they can make to the code of conduct in the future.