The school board voted against History Pride Month this October in a 1-8 vote following staunch opposition from a gathering crowd.
LGBTQ+ concerns are part of a contentious, growing debate in public schools. With Americans vastly divided on this topic, its implementation in education is a growing concern. Some are pushing for more inclusivity and attention, while others fight to keep pride events and lessons out of the school setting. Miami schools were recently the center of heated debate over a resolution to recognize a pride month in schools, which ultimately was turned down by board members.
The Miami-Dade School board shut down a proposal that would have named October LGBTQ History Month in Miami schools. According to reports from Politico, just one board member voted in approval, with the remaining eight members shutting it down, largely citing Florida’s new controversial education law coined by opposers as the Don’t Say Gay Act as their reason. The vote came hours after the public crowded the board meeting room both inside and outside, with testimonies from passioned individuals on both sides being heard.
LGBTQ History Month would have been celebrated in all Miami public schools. The proposal was given by Lucia Baez-Geller – the only member to vote in approval of it. Other than celebrating pride in schools all month law, Baez-Geller suggested that social studies teachers working with students in the 12th grade be given materials to provide lessons on vital civil rights cases that pertained to LGBTQ+ rights. However, these lessons wouldn’t be required, and students and/or their parents would be able to opt their children out if they wished.
Most school board members conveyed their disapproval of the resolution, largely citing the new Parental Rights bill as the reason to reject the recognition in Miami schools. Board member Christi Fraga came right out and said that she believes it directly violates the law. Even after it was cleared as being OK under state laws by the district’s own attorney, she noted that it may indirectly violate the law, because if included recognition in all schools, including those that taught kindergarten through third – which the law strictly prohibits in lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The meeting was filled with adversaries wishing to speak their opposition against the Miami schools’ proposal. Outside the building, members of the Proud Boys lined up to advocate against the measure. Countless speakers spoke against it, which is exactly why board member Lubby Navarro voted it down. “Our customers are our parents, and we have to be driven to give parents what they are asking us, this school system, for their children,” she said.
Through the intense meeting, Baez-Geller stood steadfast in her adamancy for the need for Pride History Month in Miami schools. She reminded the public and other board members that those who disagreed with any of the lessons involved were not required to participate. She felt that the pushback against the idea was built on hatred and “ugly falsities.” “This item does not indoctrinate students, it does not force an agenda on students,” she lamented. Some parents who spoke at the meeting shared similar sentiments, urging the board to vote it through in order to help struggling LGBTQ+ students who often feel marginalized by the community.
The board made their decision after six hours of debate. This year, no pride month will be celebrated in Miami schools. While Baez-Geller and the district attorney assert that the proposal would not have violated any state laws, no official word on the matter has been given from Florida’s Department of Education.