Speakers argue over high school yearbook in rowdy Seminole County School Board meeting

The debate over Lyman High School’s yearbook seemed settled.

A small group of parents protested two pages in the book that discussed LBGTQ life and vocabulary. In response, the Seminole County School Board offered to refund those parents or give them versions of the yearbook reprinted to not include those two pages. 

But at the school board meeting on Tuesday, June 6, it was clear the issue was far from solved. Nearly 100 people signed up to speak about the yearbook argument.

There are two pages in question in Lyman High School’s yearbook.

One prominently features high school Senior Lo Talley.

Talley said they were excited seeing the final result when the book was published.

"I was happy with the message, and I was happy that other kids would get to read that message and maybe something would click, and they wouldn’t feel so wrong or out of place," they explained.

When they heard some parents wanted the page taken out of the yearbook, they felt like they were being erased. 

"It’s not going to hurt them; if anything, it’s just going to give them a little more information that they need," said Talley.

"I’m not a threat to them. I’m not a threat to their way of life."

Sharmon Craft is with the group Moms for Liberty.

She’s one of the parents who led the school to offer to refund parents or give them a re-printed version without the LGBTQ section in it.

"We are not interested in erasing anybody’s gender or voice or whatever," said Craft. "All we are here to do is to make sure the school board is held accountable to enforce the policies that are in place already."

The other page Craft wanted to be removed has different LGBTQ-related terms and their definitions.

That list includes words like "pansexual," "asexual," and "aromantic."

A woman in Tuesday’s board meeting argued a yearbook wasn’t the place to discuss things of that nature.

"Once you place a focus on sexual habits and types of sexual attractions, you are sexualizing minors," she said to the crowd.

"There are many types of sexual desires and attractions," another woman stated during Tuesday’s meeting. "But this is not your personal publication or forum. It is a school-sponsored publication, and the law pertains to everyone."

Lisa Hickman, whose son goes to Lyman High School, asked where the Moms for Liberty would draw the line.

"Are there boys and girls in the yearbook that re boyfriend and girlfriend? Should those also be cut out? Should we not be able to talk about husband and wives?" Hickman proposed.

Some speakers maintained the yearbook violates Seminole County Public School policy and the Parental Rights in Education Bill – also called Don’t Say Gay.

"We are not here to protest a group of kids or a type of personality or gender identity or sexual identity or any of that. We’re here just strictly to point out what has fallen outside of SCPS guidelines," said Craft.

Others argue that the bill relates to classroom instruction, not yearbooks. 

Hickman says if any parents are unhappy with the pages, they should simply rip them out. Craft countered that she paid for the yearbook, and shouldn’t have to deface it.  

Craft pointed out, this is the second year in a row Lyman High School’s yearbook has been called into question. In 2022, parents were upset over photos that showed students protesting the Don’t Say Gay Bill.

"We would just like to bring awareness to that and hopefully not have that kind of content in the yearbook again. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have clubs, and they can’t get together, and they can’t be who they are. Kids are different," said Craft. "We just want to make sure to point out that policy is policy."