DCPS discontinuing ‘You Matter Month’ slogan after Black Lives Matter protests at Jacksonville area high schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) will no longer call its new teen suicide prevention campaign, “You Matter Month,” after students at several high schools around Duval County protested against the slogan.

Students who demonstrated said the ‘You Matter Month’ title overshadowed Black History Month and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Deyona Burton, Lee High School senior class president, and co-organizer of Friday’s protest on the school’s campus, spoke to Action News Jax about the student-led demonstrations.

”What issues did students take with the ‘You Matter Month’ campaign?” asked Action News Jax Reporter, Ryan Nelson.

”So, that’s actually a loaded question. We all acknowledged that it was a mental wellness launch to combat the increase in suicide rates, as well as to spread awareness of the resources provided by the school board,” Burton said.

“However, the wording of ‘You Matter,’ as well as the climate we’re in, we wish that people would have been more considerate to that.”

Burton says students at Fletcher, Terry Parker, Jackson, First Coast and Sandalwood worked collectively to demonstrate against the ‘You Matter Month’ slogan.

Action News Jax told you Wednesday when Sandalwood students held a Black Lives Matter demonstration protesting the district’s slogan.

”It doesn’t feel like I matter as well,” Burton said.

Burton tells Action News Jax students found the term ‘You Matter Month’ to be insensitive.

”It’s like saying, ‘Okay, you,’ hasty generalization, ‘All of you all matter,’” Burton said. “That’s great. But this month is supposed to highlight us. Amplify us. We matter as well.”

She says students feel the district could do more to address mental health as well.

”You want to provide resources, but it’s in the form of lengthy, bulky, emails,” Burton said. “But, what about reallocating funds? What about making Wellness Wednesdays actually engaging?”

DCPS announced it would be moving on from the ‘You Matter’ language in a statement on Friday.

”… The district will work with students on more effective ways to make students aware of mental health resources and prevent teen suicide, while discontinuing the use of the ‘you matter’ language,” said DCPS in a statement.

The district’s complete statement is posted below.

Statement from Duval County Public Schools:

”Today was a peaceful day across all of our high schools. Students in six schools held peaceful demonstrations on the topic of Black History Month.

Student leaders coordinated with school leaders to ensure these events were held in a manner which did not disrupt the school day for other students.

In all cases, our students and student leaders demonstrated a high level of maturity and character in their effort to have their voices heard.

School and district leaders were present to help manage the events and to hear the voices of the students. Conversations and relationships with student leaders built over time help to keep these events civil and appropriate for the educational environment.

Today was an example of how these events can be educational experiences in effective civil discourse.

Students are encouraged to continue the conversation at their schools with their school leaders on how we can continue to improve the work we do in Black History education.

In addition, arrangements are being made for student leaders to have a dialogue with Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene later this month.

The district will work with students on more effective ways to make students aware of mental health resources and prevent teen suicide while discontinuing the use of the ‘you matter’ language.”

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