SANFORD, Fla. — The hot topic at Tuesday night’s Seminole County Public Schools meeting was over a two-page spread in the Lyman High School yearbook.
What You Need To Know
- This is the second year that challenges have been made regarding the Lyman High School yearbook
- The high school’s principal said that he reviewed the pages in question and didn’t find them to violate district policy
- A district-level review of the situation is now underway
Parents, students and community members spent three of the four-hour meeting discussing a spread featuring LGBTQ+ students with definitions regarding sexual orientation.
After complaints from some parents, the school board decided to allow the yearbook to be reprinted with those pages blanked or give a refund to the concerned parents.
While Lyman High School Principal Michael Hunter approved the spread, some parents say it crosses a line.
“The principal of Lyman High School has approved yearbook content this year that crosses a line,” said Nancy Lloyd. “Once you put a focus on sexual habits and types of sexual attractions, you are sexualizing minors. These conversations belong in the home.”
Lloyd spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting saying, the spread was creating “a slippery slope” and pushed “the sexualization of our youth.”
Sharmon Craft, one mom who issued the initial complaint, said including the spread violates both district policy and state law.
“I believe that the people opposing doing anything to the yearbook, they think that we’re here tonight to erase their voice or not allow their photos in the yearbook, just this really, radical side, like we have some radical agenda that we don’t,” said Craft, a member of the Seminole County chapter of Moms for Liberty. “I don’t have anything against the LGBTQ community at all. I would do this if this was inappropriate content by anybody. Sexual terms and definitions don’t belong in the yearbook.”
Others who spoke out against the board’s decision argue it was caving to a minority of voices and violated the students’ free speech.
“Ms. Craft was offended by two pages of journalism in a yearbook. She’s free to tear those pages out. She’s free to cover them with stickers or simply ignore the fact that they are there and get on with her life,” said parent Harold Pomeranz. “She’s not free to impose her sensibilities on others. That’s not liberty. That is authoritarianism.”
Kelly Howzer, whose young kids are zoned for Lyman High, attended the meeting saying these policies have her concerned for her children’s well-being.
“The fact that the school board chooses to accommodate a few narrow-minded parents and support the hateful agenda of those in power trying to target the LGBTQ+ community is simply wrong,” Howzer said. “These students at Lyman High School have every right to be represented, along with the rest of their peers.”
School board clerk Jill Mahramus said while Principal Hunter reviewed the spread and found no violation of school code, the district will conduct its own review. During the review, the board will specifically look at district policy 5722, which concerns school-sponsored publications and productions.
“The district, at this point, is doing a review of the process, the policies and the law of the entire situation,” Mahramus said. “I’ve expanded my request in regards to that to see if there are additional procedures that we should consider in regards to the school-sponsored publications that are outlined in 5722, our board policy.”
Board member Amy Pennock thanked those who attended and spoke during the public comment, saying, “we don’t have any intention of erasing any student voice.”
“I think doing our due diligence is the right thing to do. I am sad that we’re here again,” Pennock said.