MIAMI (WSVN) - The Miami-Dade County Public School Board has made a lesson plan change as members voted against making October LGBTQ History Month.
Sexual orientation has become a taboo topic in Florida classrooms, so it comes as no surprise that recognizing October as LGBTQ History Month was controversial at the Miami-Dade School Board meeting on Wednesday.
After several hours of debating, the school board voted 8-to-1 against marking October as LGBTQ History Month. This came as a big shift, considering that a year ago it was passed with overwhelming support by a similar margin.
“The history of my community, the LGBTQ community, goes well beyond the discussion of sex and should be welcomed and cherished in schools,” said a man at the meeting, “and yet we worry about controversy in our history lessons. Let me be clear, history is built out of controversy.”
“Why is the Miami-Dade School Board considering an agenda item, today, that would directly violate my parental rights?” said a woman. “If it gets approved, I can sue all of you because you’re violating my rights.”
Dozens of people spoke for and against the issue. Even the line outside the building got contentious.
Kat Duesterhaus, a board member of the Florida National Organization for Women, spoke about the importance of learning history as a queer person of Jewish heritage and called out hate groups.
“The genocide of the Holocaust did not begin with murder. It began with dehumanizing certain populations using hateful rhetoric, hate groups and targeted attacks,” she said. “This is what we are seeing again today from the extremist hate groups Moms For Liberty, the Christian Family Coalition and County Citizens Defending Freedom.”
“I wish I’d had LGBTQ History Month when I went to school,” said a woman. “I wish I heard stories of happy, fulfilled LGBTQ people going about their lives.”
“I think it’s part of this left wing social experiment,” said another speaker at the meeting.
School board member Lucia Baez-Geller sponsored the bill.
“I know this has been used as a political wedge issue,” said Geller, “and I hope that we don’t continue to single out different communities or different minority groups and using them as a political issue.”
Last year, the school board passed acknowledging LGBTQ History Month, 7-to-1.
Christi Fraga was the lone vote against.
“I think endorsing and putting it out as something that everyone has to participate in does start to cross a line of imposition onto family values,” said Fraga.
This time around, the proposal was backed by the Parental Rights in Education bill, which some call the Don’t Say Gay Bill.
The law doesn’t allow teachers to talk about gender identity with students from kindergarten to third grade.
“Kind of like we do a Hispanic Heritage Month, it means you talk about it, and how do you honor it? You have to celebrate it and do activities that will commemorate, and that’s why I believe it’s in direct violation of the law that passed in the legislature,” said Fraga.
Dr. Marta Perez, who lost her re-election to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ pick, Monica Colucci, had harsh words on the topic.
“Terrible scare mongering has happened in this item that is horrible,” said Perez.
The proposal is also seeking to allow 12th grade students to learn about two landmark marriage equality Supreme Court cases: Obergefell vs. Hodges, which recognizes same sex marriage and Bostock vs. Clayton County, which prohibits employers from firing someone on the basis of sexual identity.
“This is not an item about what your beliefs are. It is simply about recognizing the struggle of our LGBTQ community and allowing them to have the dignity and respect they deserve, which is something that our district already does,” said Geller.
The school board attorney said approving LGBTQ History Month would not go against the Parental Education Rights bill because it does not mandate any instruction.
The board will have the opportunity to vote on this topic once again in 2023.
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