SEMINOLE COUNTY, Florida. – The yearbook controversy is over.
Lyman High School students will receive a full yearbook — with no photos or captions covered.
The Seminole County Public Schools Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to put disclaimer stickers in the yearbook instead of covering three photos of a student-led walkout with stickers.
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Students were upset after school administrators announced they would cover up the photos, which display a student-led ‘Don’t Say Gay’ walkout in the march criticizing the state’s Parental Rights Law in education.
Lyman High School principal Michael Hunter said Monday that the yearbook would be delayed to achieve this, adding that it was necessary to accommodate school board policies.
Following the announcement, yearbook students decided to peacefully protest the SCPS board meeting on Tuesday.
The council’s decision at the meeting came after more than 30 students and supporters approached the podium, asking council members to leave the photos uncovered.
“I know the yearbook staff put their sweat and tears into creating this yearbook,” said Lyman High School yearbook student Maya Gluck.
The students said that by covering up the photos, they were ultimately silencing the LGBTQ+ community.
“There are alternatives to covering this up,” said Sara Ward, Lyman High School’s yearbook editor.
Ahead of the vote, SCPS Superintendent Serita Beamon explained why the decision was made in the first place.
“The section of the Lyman High School yearbook that is at issue did not specify that the student protest was in fact student-led, not supported or endorsed by the schools or the district. Instead, it left the opposite impression,” Beamon said.
She said the administration was not trying to target or silence anyone.
As Beamon leaned toward meeting the current guidelines, the students said they thought they were going to lose the fight, until board chairwoman Amy Pennock turned the conversation around.
“I will personally write the check to cover different stickers that don’t cover this section,” Pennock said.
His statement was immediately applauded by the crowd.
Other members like Vice President Abby Sanchez joined us.
“These are our children. We have to do what’s best for them,” Sanchez said.
The students said they now realize how powerful their voices are.
“I’m so validated, like, I feel so good as a citizen, as a student, as a yearbook member — I feel so good right now,” said Olivia Booth, member of the directory.
Booth’s peer Skye Tiedemann said there was a big message here.
“Don’t be afraid to speak up, because students have a chance to make a difference,” Tiedemann said.
School staff said they would work on printing new disclaimer stickers.
The language of the sticker is yet to be defined, and once approved, it will take up to 1-2 weeks for the directories to be distributed.
One student said the delay was worth it.
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