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Analyzing the LGBTQ Yearbook Controversy in Florida During Ron DeSantis’ Tenure

A two-page LGBTQ section in a Florida yearbook ignited fiery controversy last spring, drawing the ire of a neighborhood Mothers for Liberty chapter, a heated school board meeting, and headlines nationwide. However the Student Press Law Center says public records show that the controversy was overblown. The embroiled Seminole County Public Schools offered parents refunds or reprinted Lyman High School yearbooks with the section removed. But, despite the outcry, only two parents requested refunds, in accordance with documents obtained by the coed press freedom non-profit through a records request. Nobody asked for a reprint. “At the tip of the day, it was really only a storm in a teacup,” said Jonathan Gaston-Falk, an SPLC staff attorney. “We had only two – of all of the people clamoring on the meeting.” The college district confirmed the SPLC’s findings but didn’t comment otherwise.

The meeting
The college district’s decision to deal with the controversy only generated more of it, with some bashing the refund and reprint decision and others bashing the content. Days after Seminole County Public Schools announced the refund and reprint options, its board held a gathering in early June. It stretched for hours, dominated by debate over those pages. Gaston-Falk said he believed “quite a number of” people got here from outside the county to oppose the pages. But, while those speaking in support of the pages outnumbered those in opposition, locals actually took issue as well. Sharman Craft, identified by Fox 35 Orlando as a Lyman High School student’s parent, called on the board to take motion against the principal for allowing the content, saying it violated county and state policies. “It comprises mature content that should not be covered in a highschool yearbook,” Craft said in the course of the meeting, where she was interrupted multiple times by disagreeing audience members. “A college yearbook just is not the place for political propaganda, ideological agendas, or every other variety of indoctrination.”

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