Miami-Dade County Public School Board Kicks Off LGBTQ Month at Fiery, Proud Boy-Filled Reunion
Parents and community members exchanged blows during a spirited six-hour Florida school board meeting on Wednesday night that ended with officials voting against a resolution that would make October the month of the LGBTQ history.
The Miami-Dade school board meeting was heated, with supporters pointing to the decades of discrimination LGBTQ members faced, including during the Holocaust, and critics decrying the measure as “satanic doctrine.” Even the far-right Proud Boys have come forward to express their disgust at the proposal, the Miami Herald reported.
The district had already passed an initiative last year recognizing October as LGBTQ History Month. This year’s resolution overhauled that plan by adding key Supreme Court decisions affecting the LGBTQ community to the Grade 12 curriculum. This proposal failed in an 8-1 school board vote.
“LGBTQ is American history,” said Karry Faith, parent of two Miami-Dade County public system students and Miami-Dade County APE Board Resolution Chair.
“National PTA is “committed to creating innovative curricula…that support[s] culturally appropriate teaching and learning…so that the history of all students, including…LGBTQ groups, is accurately represented and taught,” Faith said, citing a statement from the National PTA regarding inclusivity in schools. “PTA also believes that “classrooms that celebrate diverse histories…remove existing barriers and create supportive and inclusive schools that encourage students to grow and learn in the safest and most nurturing spaces possible.”
Lucia Baez Geller was the only board member to vote in favor of Measure H-11, which would put two landmark Supreme Court cases on the Grade 12 agenda: Oberfell v. Hodges (2015), which protects same-sex marriages, and Bostock v. County of Clayton (2020), who found that employers cannot fire workers because of their LGTBQ status.
Ahead of Wednesday’s lengthy meeting, Geller said students could opt out of the social studies lesson, the Miami Herald reported. But that did nothing to stop meeting attendees debating the measure for more than three hours.
Scott Galvin, a former Miami-Dade student and current member of the North Miami Council, said he witnessed various social movements in the area over the years and insisted that the fight for LGBTQ progress should not be different.
“I was a young man in the early 80s when the Mariel boat lift started and hundreds of thousands of people started leaving an oppressive dictatorship just so they could find a better life,” he said. he declares. “The Anglo community I grew up in was so dismissive, so hateful. … We shouldn’t have tolerated this kind of bigoted thinking. And as you consider this article tonight, please keep in mind that the history of LGBT is the history of this community and of each one of us.
Alberto Cairo, a professor at the University of Miami, also spoke out in favor of LGBTQ History Month and teaching about historic Supreme Court decisions, saying it “does absolutely no harm to anyone.”
“At the same time, it benefits everyone,” he said. “LGBTQ history is American history. It’s like so many other stories in this country: a story of struggles, progress, and setbacks.
He added that people who object to teaching LGBTQ history are “distorting” the truth, the same way the histories of black people and Jews in the United States have been twisted.
Several audience members noted that LGBTQ people were persecuted during the Holocaust, explaining that they were ostracized when they were asked to wear pink triangles on their attire to signify who they were.
Mental health counselor and educator Lauren Shure also addressed board members, who were seated at a table displaying a National Suicide Prevention Month banner.
“LGBTQ youth disproportionately experience discrimination, violence, which puts them at higher risk for depression, suicide, and even homelessness and substance abuse,” Shure said. “Establish LGBT[Q] History Month for Miami Dade County Public Schools provides protective factors for all young people and beyond. It sends the message that our LGBTQ communities, our neighbors, our colleagues and our youth matter, because they do.
“Having representation is important,” said Christina Ganem, president of the Gay Straight Alliance at IPrepatory Academy. “Children need to be represented. They need to know they are not alone. … Representation saves lives.
Despite a massive outpouring of support behind the measure, critics showed up in droves to rally against the initiative, according to the Herald. Some have accused it of limiting parents’ rights, being part of a “left-wing agenda” or equivalent to “satanic doctrine and satanic practice”.
Self-proclaimed taxpayer Marsha Hertig said she came forward to encourage voters to “do the right thing”.
“Don’t pass up this left-wing agenda that violates the conscious rights of students and parents of faith and their beliefs regarding … marriage and sexuality,” she told the crowded meeting.
Anthony Verdugo, founder of the Christian Family Coalition of Florida, said schools should “be neutral, objective, balanced, fair, and impartial.”
“This proposal,” he said, “infringes not only on the right to be a parent, but also on religious freedom and the protection of conscience.”
Members of the Miami Dade County Public School Board did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast on Thursday.