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Art teacher fired for discussing LGBTQ+ topics in Florida middle school

An art project by students drawing, coloring and creating flags expressing who they are led to the controversy

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Casey Scott (Screenshot/ WBBH NBC 2)

CAPE CORAL, Fl. – Casey Scott, a married self-identified pansexual Floridian, says she was fired from Trafalgar Middle School by Lee County Florida School District officials after discussing her sexuality answering a student’s question.

In an interview with local NBC News affiliate WBBH News 2, Scott said that an art project by students drawing, coloring and creating flags expressing who they are led to the controversy.

That project led to a discussion centered on student sexuality. She pointed out that there were flags created by students, some of whom identified as non-binary, bisexual, and gay. When asked by students about her identity she said that she told them she was married and pansexual.

Scott told NBC2 that she hung the pictures on her classroom door and that’s when school administrators reacted. “They said it would be in the best interest if I got rid of them now,” she said.

She snapped pictures showing how she got rid of them by placing them in a recycle bin.

“I went over to the recycling bin. I grabbed all their flags and all the kids were staring at me. And I crumbled their flags in front of them,” she explained.

Screenshot/ WBBH NBC 2

She told the station that first she was sent home and then later informed by the Lee County School District her contract was terminated.

School District officials showed NBC 2 complaints from parents who were concerned about the conversation and the artwork. The district also released handwritten accounts from students which described they were allowed to draw any type of flag they chose even creating flags expressing who they are.

The Teachers Union of Lee County spokesperson Kevin Daly told the station that Scott could legally be fired and he confirmed she did not belong to the teachers union.

“During that probationary period they can let you go without cause,” Daly said.

Daly believes the firing could be a wake-up for all teachers when it comes to discussing LGBTQ issues.

“There is kind of a heightened state of where is the boundary? And what are employees supposed to do? Or allowed to do, when a topic comes up in discussion,” Daly said.

The Lee County School District action firing Scott took place just days before Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s infamous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill into law. But the school district has had a problematic relationship with its LGBTQ+ students previously.

In April of 2021, during a school board meeting as parents and students protested against a one-page flyer removed from schools that was outlining the rights of LGBTQ students, and the schools’ trans-inclusive bathroom policy, The Daily News reported.

The flyer stated that “all students are allowed to access the restrooms that are consistent with their gender identity or be provided appropriate accommodation as requested.”

As soon as the meeting started, a man who later identified himself as Ryan Monroe, stood up and started shouting, “No boys in the girls’ room.” His protest elicited applause from some in the room, but it also had him escorted out of the meeting by local law enforcement.

Outside of the board meeting anti-LGBTQ+ parents and supporters of their postion carried signs quoting the Bible (“Male and Female, Gen. 1:27”) or stating that the board’s “gender policy harms girls.”

Member of the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters — some wearing T-shirts that read “Equality” or “Protect” — held transgender and LGBTQ Pride flags.

During the meeting, local resident Crystal Czyscon, whose son is trans, told board members that, “to remove this poster now — after it has already been put into place and while it is being used as the standard — would have a very negative impact.” Czyscon said that the anti-transgender debate is already negatively affecting her son.

“He said to me, ‘You know mommy, I hope that college helps me believe in school again,’ because he’s so discouraged, he’s thinking about dropping out and playing video games.”

A year later Czyscon speaking to NBC 2 expressed concern for the mental health of the Trans and nonbinary students in Scott’s classes.

Czyscon believes that district officials made a mistake.

“I would like to see a statement from the school board recognizing they have to have a mental health counselor come in and speak with the children impacted by their actions toward this teacher,” Czyscon concluded.

Cape Coral art teacher fired for discussing LGBTQ topics:

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Florida

CDC: Meningococcal Disease outbreak investigation in Florida, 7 deaths

Gay & bisexual men urged to get vaccinated if living in Florida, or talk to their healthcare provider about vaccination if traveling to state

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CDC Headquarters, Atlanta (Photo Credit: U.S. Government/GSA)

ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday that the agency is continuing its collaboration with the Florida Department of Health to investigate one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history.

At least 24 cases and 7 deaths among gay and bisexual men have been reported so far a CDC spokesperson noted.

In response to this outbreak, CDC is recommending gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men get a meningococcal vaccine if they live in Florida, or talk with their healthcare provider about getting vaccinated if they are traveling to Florida. CDC is also emphasizing the importance of routine vaccination for people with HIV.  

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” said José R. Romero, M.D., Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine.” 

People can find a meningococcal vaccine by contacting their doctor’s office, pharmacy, community health center, or local health department. Insurance providers should pay for meningococcal vaccination for those whom it is recommended for during an outbreak. In Florida, anyone can get a MenACWY vaccine at no cost at any county health department during the outbreak.  

Seek medical attention right away if you have symptoms of meningococcal disease. Symptoms can appear suddenly and include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, or a dark purple rash. Symptoms can first appear as a flu-like illness, but typically worsen very quickly. People spread meningococcal bacteria to others by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit). Generally, it takes close or lengthy contact, such as kissing or being near someone coughing, to spread these bacteria.   

Meningococcal disease can affect anyone and can be deadly and includes infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best protection against meningococcal disease. 

More information about the outbreak and vaccine is available at Meningococcal Disease in Florida, 2022 | CDC.  

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Florida

Florida proposes eliminating Medicaid coverage for gender affirming care

Should Florida’s Health Care Administration enact the rule, approximately 9,000 trans Floridians insured with Medicaid could be impacted

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Screenshot/WCJB ABC 20 Gainesville

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) released its Notice for a Proposed Rule to eliminate Medicaid coverage for gender affirming care for transgender Floridians.

AHCA’s rule proposes that Florida Medicaid coverage “does not cover the following services for the treatment of gender dysphoria: puberty blockers, hormones, sex reassignment surgeries, and any other procedures that alter primary or secondary sexual characteristics.” 

If enacted, approximately 9,000 transgender Floridians insured with Medicaid could be impacted.

 “Access to healthcare is a right every human being deserves,” said Equality Florida Director of Transgender Equality Nikole Parker. “Transgender individuals are humans just like everyone else. Just because our experience isn’t widely understood, does not mean we don’t deserve respect and access to life-saving healthcare.  The country’s major medical and mental health associations recognize the critical importance of gender affirming care.  Health care should be driven by scientific consensus, not political pandering or an election cycle.” 

Public comment on the proposed rule is being accepted through July 8, 2022, and can be submitted at the “make comment” link on this page.

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Florida

Anti-LGBTQ laws making Florida less welcoming for businesses

The state LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index is issued annually to help business leaders make equitable decisions about where to operate

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OUT Leadership/Facebook

TALLAHASSEE – In a new report by OUT Leadership, the global network for LGBTQ+ business leaders and companies, the state of Florida’s ranking has decreased at a higher rate than most states making it less suitable for companies who value LGTBQ+ inclusion in the workplace.

The report is called the State LGBTQ+ Business Climate Index for 2022 and is issued annually to help business leaders make equitable decisions about where to operate.

“At a time when our state is recovering from the pandemic and unprecedented employment challenges, this report shows that the current decisions from the state’s leadership about prioritizing culture wars over cultural diversity is harming our reputation as a welcoming and inclusive state to LGBTQ talent, and with companies who truly value equality for their workplace cultures,” said Nadine Smith, Equality Florida Executive Director.

“Our coalition called Equality Means Business was developed to highlight companies in our state that walk the walk when it comes to LGBTQ protections in their places of business,” said Rene Cantu, Equality Florida Business Outreach Manager. “It would be a shame if our corporate partners and their team members start considering moving out of Florida because of the current climate, but there are some who are doing so.”

The report measures such factors as legal/nondiscrimination protections, youth and family support, political and religious attitudes, health access and safety, and workplace culture through the lens of the LGBTQ+ community in each state.

According to this report, Florida’s score for 2022 is 53.43, a drop of 3.40 points from 2021. This score also lies 11 points below the national average of 64.61, and places Florida at a ranking of 31 out of 50. The report further states that the dramatic drop in score is a direct result of the anti-LGBTQ legislation being passed, including the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Though the law does not take effect until July 1, its chilling effects are already being felt across the state. Graduation speeches and yearbook photos have faced censorship in the law’s wake while books with LGBTQ characters and Black authors are being challenged and banned, COEXIST flags and rainbow “Safe Space” stickers are being peeled from classroom windows, and teachers are considering leaving the profession for fear of the law’s implications. 

“The message is clear: LGBTQ kids and kids with same-sex parents are not welcome in Florida schools or our state. That reality is making it harder for pro-equality businesses to operate in the state,” Equality Florida noted in a press release Thursday.

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