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A Florida school yearbook has been detained in connection with photos of a student protest

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Longwood, FL (AP) – Yearbooks at Florida High School will not be distributed until images of students holding a rainbow …

Longwood, Florida (AP) – Yearbooks at Florida Central High School will not be distributed until images of students holding rainbow flags and the sign “Love is Love” protesting against the so-called “Don’t Tell Gays” state law can be covered up.

District officials said they did not want anyone to think the school supported the students’ exit.

Lyman High School principal Michael Hunter said in a statement Monday that “photos and descriptions” documenting students’ exit in March in response to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act should have been “caught earlier in the review process.”

The bill, signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, bans teaching in classes on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten until third grade.

“Instead of reprinting the yearbook with significant costs and delays, we decided to cover material that did not comply with the council’s policy so that the yearbooks could be distributed as soon as possible,” the director said in a statement.

In an email Tuesday, a spokesman for Seminol County Public Schools, Michael Lawrence, said it was not a matter of protests, but of how its coverage in the yearbook could be interpreted as approved by the school, violating school board policies.

Lawrence noted that the yearbook dedicates a separate page to the Gay Straight Alliance Club, and elsewhere shows students marching in honor and holding rainbow flags. He said the images were in line with politics.

“The problem here is not in the photos and not in the topic that the students protested against,” Lawrence said. “If these items had been discovered before printing, there might have been some simple editing / tuning to make this section meet the printing requirements.”

Asked what needed to be edited, Lawrence said that “in particular, making it clear that this particular event was a ‘student’ event that was not sponsored, approved or promoted by the county or school would solve this problem “.

School officials have determined that the least costly solution would be to cover up this section so that yearbooks can still be distributed to high school students before graduation and the rest to students before summer vacation, he said.

Faculty yearbook adviser Daniel Pomerantz told Orlando Sentinel that she had been asked to check stickers on photos and captions depicting the output. She said the reprint of 600 yearbooks would cost $ 45,000.

“This really shouldn’t happen, because everything we did as journalists documented what was going on at our school on our campus,” Skye Tideman, one of the yearbook’s editors-in-chief, told Sentinel. “Closing it is wrong. … This is censorship. “

Tideman told WKMG that on Monday the students were supposed to have a party for their classmates to sign the yearbooks, but that was canceled.

Students at a school in Longwood, near Orlando, have created the hashtag “#stopthestickers”, which is distributed on social networks. They also scheduled a peaceful protest at a meeting of the Seminol County School Board on Tuesday night, WKMG reports.

MP Carlos G. Smith, a Democrat who is the first LGBTQ Latin American legislator, said on Twitter that “censorship is a direct result of the law against which these students protested. #WeWillNotBeErased in this so-called “free state.”

DeSantis often refers to the “free state of Florida” at his press conferences.

Orlando Democrat Anna Escomani said in a letter to school board members that she was disappointed with the decision.

“Students have been empowered to compile a yearbook that reflects their academic year experience, and have done so with professionalism, sharing a piece of Lyman campus history worth pondering,” Escomani said. “Not censored.”

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or distributed.

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