Back to School: Pronouns, Book Bans, Permission for Nicknames and Classes, And More

OutSFL file photo.

Broward County Public Schools welcomed students back to campus this week, and plenty has changed since the last school year. 

With a push for parental rights by the DeSantis administration, new rules are now in place — and that means a lot more paperwork for parents. Teachers need permission to call students by a name other than what is on their legal documents (including nicknames), parental permission is required for advanced high school students to take AP Psychology, books that cover LGBTQ topics have been removed from libraries, a civics course for teachers, and much more.

Nickname Consent

The Florida Board of Education added an amendment to its Education Records rules to “strengthen the rights of parents and safeguard their child’s educational record to ensure the use of the child’s legal name in school.” Districts are asked to develop a protocol for any deviation from their legal name. In Broward County, staff added “preferred name(s)/nickname(s)” to its student emergency contact card and has the parent sign “All staff may refer to my child by the preferred name(s) or nickname(s) listed above on all unofficial documents and during school/district events.”

While this means that Michael needs permission to be called Mikey or Mike, it impacts LGBTQ students who may want to use a gender-neutral nickname or an entirely new name. Kristen Browde, the vice president of the Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus, told the Miami New Times this new rule is harmful to trans kids.

"They may be placed in danger by having this knowledge imparted to their parents by being forced to do so or forced to accept the consequence of being put in a very uncomfortable situation in school," Browde said. "Then, there are the ones whose families do know and are supportive, and yet they are going to be forced into some sort of registry. For what purpose?"

Opt-in for AP Psychology 

The 30-year-old AP Psychology course will be allowed at Broward County Public School (not without much confusion as teachers prepared to return to school) but students wanting to take the course that “expressly requires parental consent,” Superintendent Dr. Peter Licata said in a statement. This was in response to the College Board noting that the course covers sexual orientation and gender identity, two topics that are not allowed under the state’s Parental Rights in Education law. According to the school district, 2,500 students in the county were enrolled in AP Psychology last year.

Civics Course for Teachers 

Florida is offering public school teachers the opportunity to earn a $3,000 stipend after taking a 55-hour civics course which “aligns with Florida’s revised civics and government academic standards.” The Civics Seal of Excellence included topics on the Founding Fathers, drafting the Constitution, the Civil War, and what it means to be a civil servant. The course is a part of the governor’s $106 million civic literacy initiative with the goal to provide teachers “with a strong foundational content knowledge that is rooted in a factual account of American history and the guiding principles that influenced the Founders as they debated and adopted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.”

HB 1069: Pronouns in Schools

In a bill that went into effect on July 1, kindergarten through 12th grade teachers cannot be required to call another person by their preferred name or pronouns. The text of HB 1069 states that “a person’s sex is an immutable biological trait, and that it is false to ascribe to a person a pronoun that does not correspond to such person’s sex.” Students can also not be asked what their pronouns are.

Books Removed from School Libraries

In January, it was announced that library media staff were required to take an online training regarding HB 1467, which dictates book selection and how one can contest a book being included in a library.

“The number of books being banned around the state has increased substantially. And while you are more than likely aware of a number of these bannings, there are likely many more you have not heard about. That is not an accident. It is purposeful,” the group Florida Freedom to Read Project said in a statement.

Here are books that have been pulled from Broward County Public Schools because of its discussion of sexual orientation or inclusion of “pornography and prohibited materials.”

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss

A picture book about two male bunnies who want to get married. The president of the garden, a stink bug, won’t allow it. The garden animals hold a vote and choose a new president who allows same-sex marriage.

It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley 

Another picture book, the book covers how people’s bodies change, gender, puberty, and sexual health. The third and latest edition switched to gender-neutral vocabulary and includes gender identity, sex, and sexuality.

Let's Talk About It by Erika Meon 

A picture book for teens, topics including platonic and romantic relationships, gender and sexuality, anatomy, body image, safe sex, sexting, and other topics.

Flamer by Mike Curato 

This graphic novel tells the story of Aiden, who attends camp in the summer between middle and high school — a time when he’s confused about what “gay” means and why he likes another boy at camp.


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