TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – This week, the Florida Department of Education removed its anti-bullying portal from public view. The page contained vital information that included the state’s anti-bullying policy. The removal of such a valuable resource to LGBTQ+ students could leave thousands of children and young people unnecessarily exposed and vulnerable to bullying and discrimination.
The following statement is from Scott McCoy, interim deputy legal director with Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund:
“We are shocked by the Florida Department of Education’s (DOE) callous willingness to risk student safety, including that of Florida’s LGBTQ+ children and youth. The state’s anti-bullying policy and accompanying links on its portal were not created in a vacuum, but to protect the entire student body.
“The portal’s pro-LGBTQ+ resources not only served as a deterrent, but also clearly and publicly listed the consequences for anyone involved in bullying. These resources were a lifeline for students who identify as LGBTQ+, providing hope that Florida schools can remain a safe space where they would be treated fairly and can learn without fear.
“Instead, removing the anti-bullying page sends a broader, more dangerous message that mistreatment, harassment, discrimination, and intimidation are alive, well, and acceptable in Florida’s public school system.
“By playing into unfounded fears, the Florida DOE attempts to solve a problem that does not exist. This choice harms not only students, but also staff and administrators charged with keeping order and maintaining safety on school property.
“The Florida DOE is deemed the leading authority to educate and protect all of the state’s school-age children. It should act as such. It can begin by immediately restoring the anti-bullying page, including all pro-LGBTQ+ links and advocacy resources. This will be a good first step to reassuring students that their safety is the Florida DOE’s primary concern.”