Students in one South Florida county will get a chance to use whatever name they feel comfortable with during the upcoming school year.
NBC affiliate WPTV-TV reports the School District of Palm Beach County will allow students to fill out registration forms with their preferred name starting with the 2022-23 school year.
“As we talk about affirming in our mission statement, we know that many of our students prefer to be called another name, a nickname, another name,” said Keith Oswald, Chief of Equity and Wellness with the School District of Palm Beach County.
Advocates hope the district will continue to make moves to be more inclusive, including more gender-neutral bathrooms and gay-straight alliance clubs.
“I think what was announced today in terms of preferred names will have the opportunity to save lives,” said Lacy Larson the parent of an LGBTQ+ student. “If we don’t speak up for our kids, they’ve shown us that they’ll speak up for themselves and then it’s our role to listen to them and do what we can as grown-ups.”
The school district will hand out updated handbooks to train teachers to comply with new laws from the state of Florida, including a bill signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis that limits instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade in the state’s public schools that become known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
“I have more faith in our school district to protect these kids than I probably do in our government right now and that is something that we need to see and these kids need to see that they have a safe environment that they can go to so they can learn.” said Rex Barnes, the Youth and Family Services Coordinator with Compass Community Center.
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