MIAMI (WSVN) - Following a prolonged debate, the Miami-Dade County Public School Board has voted against officially recognizing October as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer History Month within the district. The contentious decision, passed by a 5-3 vote, comes in the wake of the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law that was signed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last year.

The debate over Initiative H-11, which sought to acknowledge October as LGBTQ History Month within Miami-Dade County Public Schools, drew a large crowd of concerned citizens to the board’s weekly meeting. Emotions ran high as over 100 people signed up for the public comment section as they expressed both support and opposition to the proposal.

Opponents of the initiative argued that recognizing LGBTQ History Month would send a concerning message to students and parents.

“Some of the garbage that I’ve heard about teaching sexuality and sex and sexual orientation is insane,” said one woman.

“A ‘yes’ vote will set a dangerous precedent. A ‘yes’ vote tells parents and students, ‘Your sexual desires are more important than your achievements,'” another opponent declared. “I urge this board no because it will not bring the inclusion and welcoming environment you hope for.”

Supporters of the proposal countered that simply designating October as LGBTQ History Month was not about indoctrination but a symbolic act to ensure students feel safe and supported in their schools.

As students returned to class on Thursday, some agreed with the board’s decision.

“I hope you understand that simply naming October as LGBTQ History Month does not mean we are indoctrinating your children,” one supporter emphasized.

“They’re young and they don’t know, like, their lives, so they need to wait until they’re much older to understand the difference,” a student said.

The debate holds significance in light of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity for students in grades pre-K through 12. Critics argue that recognizing LGBTQ History Month could potentially violate this law.

Lucia Baez-Geller, a member of the Miami-Dade County School Board, representing District 3, stood firmly in favor of recognizing LGBTQ History Month, emphasizing that it was not about imposing beliefs on students.

“This is not an item that is about what your beliefs are. It’s just simply about recognizing the struggle of our LGBTQ community,” she stated. “Regardless of the controversy, we have LGBTQ students in our schools that are gonna appreciate this and need this and want their school system to say, ‘We see you, and we believe in you, and you matter.'”

Baez-Geller also clarified that celebrating LGBTQ History Month would not involve instructional materials. Instead, it would be left to each school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club to decide how they would celebrate and in what format.

On Thursday, Baez-Geller interviewed with 7News and shared her thoughts on the results of the meeting.

“We were ready prepared to see a lot of the decisive rhetoric that was spewed last night against members of the LGBTQ community,” she stated.

This discussion is not new to the Miami-Dade County School District. In 2021, the board had initially decided to observe LGBTQ History Month, but with the implementation of the “Don’t Say Gay” law, that decision was subsequently overturned. The recent vote reaffirms the ongoing tension and debate within the community regarding LGBTQ issues in the classroom.

While some believe observing LGBTQ History Month would violate Florida’s current state law, Baez-Geller emphasizes the gesture would have been symbolic.

“Regardless of what happens, what gives me hope is our students absolutely can continue celebrating and expressing themselves in their true identity,” she explained.

The board members who voted against the measure have been contacted by 7News but have not responded.

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