PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — With school beginning next week Bay District Schools leaders are still awaiting guidance from the state on the new parental rights bill. While they wait, News 13 discovered the school district is providing its own guidance to teachers on how to handle the controversial legislation.
Teachers are watching a 15-minute video, which is part of an 8-part series to prepare teachers for the upcoming school year. The video tells teachers if a child is struggling with their sexuality and needs service modifications, staff must tell their parents.
“We’re telling people to use common sense,” Bay District Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt said.
But in an off-hand conversation, a parent does not need to be alerted.
“I’m finally going to acknowledge the elephant in the room,” the video said. “The bill we’re talking about is what was called in the media headlines as the ‘don’t say gay bill’. I know that there are fears and concerns that school staff are required to immediately call a parent if a student identified him or herself as LGBTQ…fortunately that is not what the law says at all.”
If the student makes an off-hand comment or does not have concerns or anxiety concerning their orientation, parent do not need to be alerted. But if a student needs service modifications because of their sexual orientation, the parent must be notified.
If a school needs to make adjustments so the child is safe in a learning environment, the parent must be notified. Rules apply to students of all ages.
“Any time that there’s a possibility that there’s some kind of change or issue that a student might be dealing with, we want the parents involved,” Husfelt said.
If a student wants to change their pronoun, Husfelt said parents will always be involved. But teachers do not have to alert parents about a students sexual orientation if they have evidence a student could be abused by a parent. Husfelt said teachers should avoid having conversations with students about sexual orientation.
“What I have told the teachers, and I believe this firmly, is teachers shouldn’t be having those conversations with students,” Husfelt said. “There is nowhere in the curriculum where there’s a place for that.”