ORLANDO, Fla. — For the second year in a row, a local high school has sparked controversy about a portion of its yearbook about LGBTQ+ students.
And once again, Seminole County School administrators are offering a modified version of the yearbook after complaints from parents.
Danielle Pomeranz, the yearbook’s faculty advisor, said the controversy is a big part of why she’s decided to resign from her teaching job at Lyman High School.
Pomeranz says as yearbook faculty advisor and teacher, she’s loved working with students for several years on the Lyman High yearbook.
“Working with these great students and really making something that we can all be proud of, and we are really proud of this book,” said Pomeranz.
But for the second year in a row, a page about LGBTQ+ students has drawn criticism. A spokesperson for Seminole County Public Schools says four parents complained about the yearbook spread, which lists and defines several types of sexual orientations. It also gives the backgrounds of a few students.
Outgoing yearbook editor-in-chief Sara Ward, who just graduated from Lyman, says it’s part of including everyone in the high school.
“We just wanted to know individuals’ stories and let them have their chance to share their voice and share their stories,” said Ward.
SCPS is giving objecting parents an option to either have the cost of the yearbook refunded, or to have it replaced with a newly-printed copy without the spread in question. Pomeranz says it could cost thousands of dollars to reorder new books that will simply have blank pages in place of the spread.
“I feel like the county is operating from a place of fear more than anything else, and that’s really problematic,” said Pomeranz.
Last year the school district considered covering up pictures of students at a protest of the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, but settled with placing a sticker that said that protest wasn’t a school-sponsored event.
“I don’t understand why it keeps being us, I wish it wasn’t — I don’t particularly enjoy doing this — but do what we have to to make sure voices continue being heard,” said Ward.
Pomeranz says she’ll keep supporting her students, but she decided to resign from her teaching and faculty advisor role.
“I can’t work for a county that I don’t feel like supports all of the students that it represents, so I don’t feel responsible doing that,” said Pomeranz. “But more than that, I feel like now I can have a voice that’s louder and bolder.”
Pomeranz and Ward both plan to share their thoughts on the issue with the school board at the board’s meeting on Tuesday, June 6.
Jessica Tillman, chapter chair for Moms for Liberty Seminole County responded to a request for comment saying in part, “It is highly inappropriate to put definitions of gender identities in a yearbook.”