BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – Bay District Schools are one of many districts state-wide that are trying to comply with a state law that some say is vague.
The School Sponsored Events and Activities Law requires parents to approve their child’s participation in all school-sanctioned events, whether it’s an assembly, field trip, or play.
“No longer is it opt out, you must opt-in,” said BDS Superintendent Mark McQueen.
The law’s broad interpretation has led each district to implement its own varying policies.
Some of these policies have raised eyebrows for parents, staff, and administrators. In one Bay District elementary school, parents were prohibited from interacting with their children in an after-school on-campus event.
“When you have 600 kids in the cafeteria and you have parents, which parent is with which child and how do you separate them? So the easiest way to do that, to be fair for everybody, to be firm, fair, and consistent, was to separate the parents as observers because they’re only observing. They’re not speaking with not just their student, but potentially other students,” said McQueen.
McQueen acknowledged that the law has led to logistical challenges, as the district must account for a myriad of forms for each student. Currently, over 26,000 students attend Bay District schools.
Proponents, such as Florida Senator Jay Trumbull, say the logistical challenges are worth it if the result is parental control.
“Giving parents the most and all the information as it relates to their child’s education is the most important thing to do. And if it requires a little bit more paperwork, you know, I think so be it,” said Trumbull.
Critics say the law is one of many attempts from Governor Ron DeSantis to control LGBTQ+ issues in classrooms. The bill restricts children from attending “adult live entertainment,” which the Human Rights Campaign condemned, arguing it targets the drag and transgender communities.
Sen. Trumbull disagreed with that notion, saying, “The goal and the key to this piece of legislation is that the things that they are learning are age appropriate and I do not believe that a third grader should be going to an adult live performance.”
Sen. Trumbull also said the Florida State Board of Education could revisit the law to make adjustments if they see fit.
To see the full law, click here.