School Orders Cover-Up of Yearbook Protest Photos

Florida students walked out in March to protest 'Don't Say Gay' law
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 10, 2022 10:58 PM CDT
Updated May 11, 2022 12:15 AM CDT
School Orders Cover-Up of Yearbook Protest Photos
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the Parental Rights in Education bill at Classical Preparatory school, March 28, 2022 in Shady Hills, Fla.   (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

(Newser) – Yearbooks at a central Florida high school won't be distributed until images of students holding rainbow flags and a "love is love" sign while protesting the state's so-called "Don't Say Gay" law can be covered up with stickers. District officials said they don't want anyone thinking that the school supported the students' walkout. Lyman High School Principal Michael Hunter said in a statement Monday that "pictures and descriptions" documenting a student walk-out in March in response to Florida's Parental Rights in Education law should have been "caught earlier in the review process," the AP reports.

The bill, signed into law by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, bans classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. "Rather than reprinting the yearbook at substantial cost and delay, we have elected to cover that material that is out of compliance with board policy so that yearbooks can be distributed as soon as possible," the principal's statement said. In an email Tuesday, Seminole County Public Schools spokesman Michael Lawrence said the issue wasn't with the protest but how its depiction in the yearbook could be interpreted as being endorsed by the school, which would be in violation of the school board's policy.

Lawrence noted that the yearbook dedicates a separate page to the school's Gay Straight Alliance Club and elsewhere shows students at a pride march and holding rainbow flags. Students at the school in Longwood, which is near Orlando, have created a hashtag “#stopthestickers," which is circulating on social media. "This really shouldn't be happening because all we did as journalists was document what was happening at our school on our campus," Skye Tiedemann, one of the yearbook’s editors-in-chief, tells the Orlando Sentinel. "To have that covered up isn’t right. ... This is censorship."

(Read more Florida stories.)

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