Florida School District Bans Safe Space Stickers To Comply With New Law

A Florida school district made the decision to ban LGBTQ safe space stickers from school in order to comply with new state educational laws.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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safe space stickers

Florida sparked national attention and discourse when it passed The Parental Rights in Education bill — coined the Don’t Say Gay act by opposers — last spring. Keeping up with that decorum, the contentious law has sparked debate over a district and its decision to ban LGBTQ+ safe space stickers in school buildings. The choice has been met with both approval, and criticism as Florida schools continue to navigate sweeping new educational laws.

Last Thursday, September 1st, Kurt Browning, the superintendent of Pasco County schools sent a letter out districtwide instructing schools to remove any and all safe space stickers. Schools in the Florida district likely had many of these LGBTQ+ inclusivity symbols strewn around the place, as the district had previously paid for the production of stickers that had the Pasco County school logo within, according to reports from The Tampa Bay Times. The reason for this ban? The district believes the signage may be in direct violation of the newly enacted Florida legislation. 

In his memo, Browning noted that the district is now required to extensively inform caregivers about school happenings especially as it pertains to their mental, emotional, and physical health. It is the district’s understanding that safe space stickers may give off the perception that teachers with these signs may hide information conveyed to them by students from their parents. The district fears this could make them liable for a lawsuit possibly in violation of the parental rights in education law. 

The decision to prohibit safe space stickers appears to be part of a growing debate among local parents drawing attention to the LGBTQ signs. Being brought to the attention of school board members during meetings, parents — as recent as last Tuesday — asserted that the stickers seem to offer a select group of students preference. Likewise, they insinuated that it opened a door for students to share imperative information with school staff to which they wish to hide from their parents.

One parent, Tori Tiffany, who was for the removal of the stickers asked the board last week, “What exactly is a safe space? Shouldn’t the entire school be a safe space?” Browning asserted this same rhetoric in his letter to the district last week. He pointed out that the safe space stickers go against district policy regarding nondiscrimination, reminding teachers and staff that they are responsible for protecting “all students.” 

Detractors against the new law condemned the district for removing the safe space stickers. Brandon Wolf, a spokesperson for Equality Florida decried the move. He pointed out that LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of mental issues like depression, anxiety, bullying, and violence. He dreads that removing these stickers will open doors for more issues for this group of students.

safe space stickers

Pasco County schools aren’t the only Florida district banning safe space stickers from school campuses. Both Duval and Orange county schools recently prohibited them as well, citing the new Florida law as the reason. Whether or not schools agree with the sweeping new education pushed by Republican lawmakers in Florida, districts are making extensive changes to policy and procedures, out of fear of violating new laws.