On September 7, the Miami-Dade School Board, which oversees a school system with over 331,000 students, held a public meeting at its headquarters in downtown Miami. Over the course of six hours, various personalities and groups took turns expressing their support or criticisms for a proposal advanced by board member Lucia Baez Geller, who represents District 6. Geller’s resolution, H-11, if enacted, would have had the school board “recognize and observe October 2022 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) History Month,” as well as provide social studies instruction on gay history.
At 9:45 p.m., the board voted 8-1 against the proposal.
Part of the reason cited for voting down the proposal was that it was likely in conflict with Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill, which reinforces parents’ natural rights to make decisions concerning their children’s upbringing.
Geller did not handle the decision well and was visibly upset. She claimed, “There is an election year and the anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is a tool used by some to spread misinformation.”
School board chair Perla Tabares Hantman, who plans to retire in November, stated, “We have to be in accordance with the law.”
Although last year, the board — differently constituted — voted 7-1 to recognize October as a gay-themed month (also proposed by Geller), Geller drew heat this week by pushing further for a gay-themed curriculum change.
Geller suggested that just as students are required to learn about the War of Independence, the Civil War, the world wars, and the civil rights movement, they should similarly learn about cases pertinent to gay activism in the United States.
Accordingly, H-11 would have had students specifically study and learn about Supreme Court cases Obergefell v. Hodges (where bans on same-sex “marriage” were ruled unconstitutional) and Bostock v. Clayton County (where discrimination against employees on the basis of gay orientation or transsexuality was ruled unconstitutional) in social studies classes.
In her September 2 letter to the board, Geller asserted that October should be a time “established to remind all cultures within our wider community of the important roles that LGBTQ people have taken in shaping the social, historical, legal, and political worlds we live in today.”
She further highlighted how a gay-focused month would constitute “an effective means of educating and calling to action our community to work together by fighting prejudice and discrimination … and increasing visibility and raising awareness.”
Board member Christi Fraga, who represents District 5, was the lone dissenter in last year’s successful vote to observe a gay-themed October. According to WPLG, Fraga suggested on Wednesday that H-11 creates a “hostile” environment and emphasized it isn’t up to teachers to “decide what will be taught in classrooms during this time.”
Others, reported the Guardian, indicated that the realization of Geller’s proposal would amount to sexual abuse of children.
The chair of Moms for Liberty Miami-Dade, Eulalia Maria Jimenez, suggested the alteration of the social studies curriculum to complement an already gay-themed month requiring observance by students was tantamount to “indoctrination.” In an Instagram post, the group had written, “Help us protect the children against grooming agenda HB-11.”
A transsexual supporter of H-11 present at the meeting suggested such language was dehumanizing to the gay community.
The president and founder of the gay activist group PRISM FL, Maxx Fenning, went a step further, suggesting that a refusal to render October a gay month and require its observance by children was akin to Nazi persecution.
Another activist group, Equality Florida, expressed shock and alarm in response to the school board’s determination, writing, “Tonight’s vote is more proof of the sweeping, dangerous effect of Florida’s discriminatory Don’t Say LGBTQ law.”
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis-backed candidates flipped the Miami-Dade school board last month. Concerning that win, the 1776 PAC tweeted, “Miami Dade is now the LARGEST county in America with a conservative school board majority. Congrats to Roberto Alonso and Monica Colucci.”