Detroit public schools are set to once again vote on a proposal to recognize pride month in schools, but given the last meeting, approval is unlikely.
Pride month is celebrated each June in America. It’s a time for LGBTQ+ supporters to strut their brightly colored rainbow flags and apparel, but more importantly, it’s nationally recognized for the trials and tribulations the gay community has overcome through the decades. Because of this and more reasons, students, parents, and educators have been urging the Detroit school board to pass a resolution to officially recognize the last month of school for being pride month.
The school board voted down the proposal to recognize pride month at a previous board meeting that was held on June 14th. Only three board members voted in favor of it, and another three were absent from the meeting, so it failed to garner enough votes with just one “no”. However, the resolution will be brought up once more this week at a school board meeting. People are hopeful that more board members will show up, and vote it through.
Skeptics are questioning what the big deal is in adopting a policy that officially recognizes pride month for Detroit public schools. After all, schools are still allowed to hold pride events whether or not the board recognizes pride month. Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti made note of this but pointed out why it was important for school officials to adopt this action. “[It’s about] the board recognizing the unique identity of all students.”
To many, the idea of a school board voting down a resolution to recognize pride month would show a stance of rejection and disregard for the struggles LGBTQ+ students and staff go through each and every day in school. According to statistics from The Trevor Project, about 1.8 million LGBTQ+ Americans aged 13-24 contemplate suicide each year. At least one of them will attempt suicide nearly every 45 seconds. Similarly, gay and transgender students are at a higher risk of mental health issues and bullying at school.
The hope by many is that if the school board adopts this policy and officially declares June as pride month in schools, teachers will be more apt to address this, and even have more discussions about the history of LGBTQ activism in the United States. Speaking with Chalkbeat, an LGBTQ+ teacher within the district relayed this, stating that he never learned about important moments in history for the community such as the stonewall riots, the history of pride colors, or even the legalization of gay marriage. It’s not simply about allowing students to celebrate it, it’s about more leaders stepping up and acknowledging it.
Much of the negative rhetoric against schools being LGBTQ+ inclusive mirrors the same critics against school ideas centered around critical race theory (CRT). Opposers argue that CRT is a divisive concept teaching white children that they should feel ashamed because of the history of white slavery and racism in the nation. For pride month and events, the notion is that teachers are indoctrinating the youth to identify as queer. But much like celebratory dates like the fourth of July, black history, and LGBTQ+ history are a part of American culture. More and more Americans are speaking out and demanding that we no longer pick and choose which is celebrated in schools, as activists stand idly by in hopes that Detroit school board members will push the resolution through.