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Volusia Schools Joining Flagler in Protecting LGBT Sexual Identity Against Bullying

| March 31, 2011

make it better campaign lgbt protection flagler volusia counties

It should not be such a struggle.

The policy change in Volusia was prompted by the case of an 8-year-old Deltona girl being raised as a boy. It follows on the heels of a similar move in Flagler County to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT) students. Both cases were championed by the ACLU.

The Volusia County School Board Tuesday evening unanimously approved adding “gender identity or expression” to the district’s policy prohibiting student bullying and harassment.

The policy was prompted by the case of an 8-year-old Deltona child, biologically a girl, who is being raised as a boy according to what the parents and the boy believe is the child’s true sexual identity. The boy’s parents granted his wish in 2009, including a boy’s name. The child’s mother has been pressing the school board for a policy change for almost two years. The school board resisted for months, saying its policy was sufficient to protect all students. Meanwhile, the boy was being harassed about his identity by other students.

The policy move in Volusia follows on the heels of a related issue in Flagler County, where a gay 9th grade student, formerly at Flagler Palm Coast High School, had been bullied by students and insulted by a shop teacher. The ACLU intervened. The teacher was reprimanded and required to make a public apology, though the student never returned to school. He’s taking courses through Florida Virtual School. The Flagler County School board also agreed to do what the Volusia board did Tuesday, though Flagler has yet to enact that pledge.

“We are very happy to see this important policy adopted,” said George Griffin, President of the Volusia-Flagler Chapter of ACLU of Florida. “We’ve been working with the board and the community for more than a year to take this step forward to make students and schools safer.”

Griffin and the Volusia-Flagler Chapter began working to get explicit protections based on “gender identity or expression” added to the policy after the 34-year-old mother of the student brought concerns about the treatment of her child in a Volusia school to the ACLU’s attention.

During the Tuesday board meeting, Griffin read a statement from the mother, who would not appear in person. “I wish I could be the one reading this to you today, but because of the controversy surrounding this subject we must remain anonymous to protect our family,” her statement read.

“We have spoken to individuals and organizations across the state and across the country, and we’ve learned of the relentless torment these kids endure simply because they want to be themselves,” Griffin said for the mother. “By adding gender identity and expression to the policy, you are not just protecting my child, but hundreds of others will have one more layer of protection, knowing that they matter to you.”

“We were happy to play a role in developing this policy but it would not have been possible without the leadership of elected officials such as Board Member Diane Smith who really took this issue to heart,” Griffin said.

After a year of meetings and discussions between local and state ACLU representatives, the parent, and district officials including Smith, the inclusive policy was adopted at a regular Board meeting Tuesday night.

“This was the right thing to do,” Smith said. “Our school board is student focused and makes decisions with their best interests in mind. This amendment strengthens our current policy so that we can ensure all students are protected from bullying and harassment.”

The success in protecting students in Volusia is part of the ACLU of Florida’s longstanding commitment and work through litigation and advocacy to secure and protect the rights of LGBT students — that is, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender — to learn in a safe environment that is free of harassment, bullying and discrimination.

“The most common forms of bullying and harassment in Florida schools, and across the country, are based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical appearance,” said Shelbi Day, ACLU of Florida LGBT Project Attorney. “Although the state anti-bullying law clearly prohibits bullying and harassment of any students, it is imperative that individual school district policies make clear that bullying and harassment of LGBT students is prohibited and will not be tolerated. This is a critical step in making Florida schools truly safe for all students.”

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10 Responses for “Volusia Schools Joining Flagler in Protecting LGBT Sexual Identity Against Bullying”

  1. Mona says:

    The parents are ABOMINABLE!!! What does a child know? She should be Baptised Traditional Catholic, receive The Sacraments and be taught that God made them both male and female, and that she is a beautiful girl in God’s Eyes and must be taught purity and The faith in order to save her soul and not be burdened with the crap of these parents!!! EVERYTHING is a decision: we decide to eat; we decide to diet – we decide to take a trip; we decide to stay home – we decide to work; we decide to mooch off the taxpayers; we decide to be holy; we decide to be deviates.
    this is an unholy burden for the child — she WILL grow up most troubled and on government-provided, “medication.” I will pray for her. Someone will come along and give her the True Faith and perhaps she can teach and pray for her parents, who are complete asses. Lord have mercy!

  2. Jason says:

    Sickening. The ACLU is a despicable organization.

    This little girls misguided parents are doing nothing but screwing up their daughter.

    The issue here is bullying? Really? Is that all there is? This is nothing more than the vile ACLU ramming every perversion known or unknown down the throat of a formerly decent culture.

    Is there no concern for the little girls health and “safety” here? A child and her idiot parents “believe” she’s really a boy so that’s it? Therefore everybody has to acknowledge and in fact applaud this belief?

    If this weren’t so vile it would be funny.

  3. Scott Rose says:

    There of course are always unenlightened people, ready to bang a Bible as justification for their ignorance. Thank goodness this young human being’s parents is not one of those people.

  4. Mona – I always find it fascinating when those of you who choose to invoke religion at the slightest provocation choose to ignore that minor little “thou shalt not judge” sentiment. The only thing I see that I’d refer to as ‘abominable’ is the hatred, anger and narrow-mindedness of people like you. Lord have mercy, indeed, as for as long as there are people like you pointing your fingers at anyone who doesn’t see the world through the same bigoted glasses you seem so fond of, there will be need for special protections written into school policies and there’ll be need for ACLU and the like. Because sadly, some of the kids that go to school with this child were raised by people like you, whose definition of Faith borders on the most primitive and the most cliched. Anything else would require an open mind, which is hard to come by in any dogma, but certainly simple enough to swallow whole. Here is to hoping your kind is a dying breed…

  5. JonQPublik says:

    This is a truly inspiring decision. After many years of hearing and reading about the atrocities some people have faced growing up (including the experiences of my not-quite forgotten youth), this gives me hope that people are making an effort to raise and teach children in a modernly compassionate and effective environment.

    Parenting isn’t 100% about teaching and raising a child; there are thousands of things parents learn along the way that help them become better mothers and fathers. Considering the parents’ struggle to understand, grow and develop a positive path for themselves– including their child– is blindingly tremendous. The fact that school boards are increasing their stance on the protection of all children is equally wonderful.

    Those whom would cast aspersions and judgment based on their religious beliefs is astonishingly crass, insensitive and appallingly self-righteous. The situation has NOTHING to do with God. People too commonly choose to use God as a means of hate– a weapon, quite nearly (how anyone can do that is beyond my comprehension). It’s the most common way to instill fear and, historically speaking, incite war. I would hope any supreme being taking note of their name used as a catalyst for condemnation would return the favor. Not that I’m asking my perception of God to do such a thing, but I can ponder it, freely, and not feel guilty about it.

  6. Jason – sickening? Really, your reaction to something that is a part of someone else’s child’s PRIVATE life is sickening. If nothing else, this child is lucky to have the parents who do not consider him either sickening or a perversion. Oh, and the issue here is indeed bullying, as you have just illustrated by your shameful little rant.

  7. Kurt says:

    the parents are doing what is probably best for their child. i have never dealt with this issue myself buut all that should matter for a child is that their child is happy. it must be hard enough 4 the child to deal with this without people like some of the morons posting on here passing jugement. if you are religious and what not, then do as jesus did and love everyone, and if u think its a sin, newsflash, we all sin.

  8. runningonempty says:

    Jason & Mona- I’m pretty certain Jesus would not have chosen to be affiliated with the likes of you two. After all, He always chose those deemed “ABOMINABLE” and “despicable” to keep company with.

    That being said, let’s discuss what you’re REALLY using the Bible for- justification for your own prejudices and hate, you and countless other Bible-thumpers. The buck stops here! How many times do we have to learn that discriminatory acts of any kind is just plain wrong?

    These Deltona parents, along with countless other parents and students who have had to endure years of intolerance from ignorant people such as yourselves, deserve to be applauded for their courage. Too many young LGBT teens choose to take their own lives in response to society’s hate towards them. So basically, blood is on YOUR hands… isn’t murder part of the Commandments? Jesus himself was crucified for being, what society of his time deemed, DIFFERENT.

    Matthew 7 (New International Version, ©2011)
    Matthew 7:1-5:
    Judging Others
    1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    Perhaps to you, this quote, along with countless others, does not apply to judging the LGBT community. Instead, you choose to rant on the few quotes that condemn homosexuality, even though most of our society are committing adultery, and having sex out of wedlock everyday (just look at TV’s example of Catholics on Jersey Shore). Come on.

    My closing thought is this: Financially speaking, it is so called organized religions who are the ignorant fools. Imagine how much “tithing” revenue these churches would receive in accepting the LGBT community into our churches? Most are classified: double-income-no-kids. DUH!

  9. Change - Really? says:

    “By adding gender identity and expression to the policy, you are not just protecting my child, but hundreds of others will have one more layer of protection, knowing that they matter to you.”

    I don’t really get it, I guess. Adding words to policy doesn’t make anyone safe. There are already words indicating it’s illegal to kill, rob, rape, yet these crimes occur daily. Adding “gender identity & expression” to the existing policy – I just don’t think will really stop studends from picking on others.

    Just my two cents…

  10. Becca says:

    I find that who someone is should be there choice. Also there is no need to bring religion into this, if you are you should just keep in mind that thou shalt not jude. Also It is inspiring to see people verving of the beaten path. Just because someone may find it “sickening” it may be something they cant control. I find it to be phenomenal that they are chosing to follow there heart instead of following what the close minded people of the world say.
    Also just because they add this it wont stop anyone from bullying these students.

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