Florida school offers yearbook reprints after objections to LGBTQ+ content

<span>Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP</span>
Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

A high school in Florida will offer refunds and reprints to parents and students who argued its yearbook featured “disgusting and wrong” LGBTQ+ content.

Students at Lyman high school in Seminole county received their yearbooks a few weeks ago. Several conservative parents complained.

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Among 256 pages, two pages highlighted LGBTQ+ students. In addition to pictures of smiling students, the pages featured terms including “genderfluid”, “sexual orientation”, “queer” and “nonbinary”, as well as the rainbow Pride flag.

Quotes from students included: “I think it’s important for you to help others understand you. You should show them who you are, how you feel and what you identify as because it’s not wrong. It is you literally just living your life.”

In a Facebook post reviewed by the Daily Beast, one parent wrote: “This gender ideology crap has parents in an uproar because it’s disgusting and wrong for an adult to sexualize a minor …

“The district superintendent is ordering the school to give full refunds or have the books reprinted without the glossary of perverse sexual attractions and pronouns.

“We are just getting started.”

In another post reviewed by the Beast, a former teacher wrote: “I was taught by [Seminole county public schools] … that the public schools need to be NEUTRAL … This is a violation of public school professional educator ethics. It does not matter which side [of] the issue you are on. This is NOT appropriate.”

Speaking to the Orlando Sentinel, Jessica Tillmann, the Seminole chair of the rightwing non-profit Moms for Liberty said, “They shouldn’t have any sexual definitions in a yearbook … This is a yearbook that goes to every student as young as 14.”

According to Tillman, a parent not affiliated with her group lodged a complaint with the state education department.

In a letter to parents reviewed by WKMG-TV Orlando, the Seminole public schools superintendent, Serita Beamon, said: “Two pages [in the yearbook] included information regarding sexual orientation/gender identity. A few students and parents have reported that they found this content to be inappropriate.

“While this matter is being reviewed further at the district level, any student or parent who purchased a copy of the 2022-23 Lyman yearbook may choose to return it to the school for a full refund or request an exchange for a re-printed yearbook that omits the pages in question.”

Students and parents were given until 29 June to return yearbooks or request an exchange.

Sara Ward, the yearbook editor-in-chief, told the Sentinel: “We’ve always had the LGBTQ+ spread in there.

“Our job as journalists and members of the yearbook staff is to provide coverage of the entire school and that includes all of the communities, including the LGBTQ+ community.”

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A group of students including Danielle Pomeranz, a former yearbook adviser, urged others to email the school district with the following message: “Serita D Beamon, you cannot continue to erase the queer community, not at Lyman high school or anywhere. Stop being cowardly and STAND UP FOR YOUR STUDENTS.

“According to the Trevor Project, ‘one accepting adult decreases the risk of suicide by 40% for LGBTQ+ young people’. Be that one adult for your students. Queer students are not inappropriate. Queer vocabulary is not inappropriate.”

Last year, Lyman high school faced controversy after officials attempted to censor yearbook pictures of students protesting the so-called “don’t say gay” Florida law which bans discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public school classrooms.

The school board ultimately voted to keep the pictures, with stickers indicating the protests were not supported by the school.