Whether or not to celebrate “LGBT History Month” in South Florida throughout October is a question pitting the school board of one of the largest school systems in the country against the schools it governs in 34 municipalities.
And the dust-up could put city and school officials in violation of 10 Florida laws, says the leader of a citizen watchdog group.
It reflects a trend across the county of parents getting more involved than ever in what’s happening in the their children’s schools.
The Florida battle began when Miami Beach officials learned that “LGBT History Month” wouldn’t be allowed in their community schools this month, as it has in the past.
On Sept. 7, the overarching Miami-Dade School Board voted 8-1 to reject a proposal for a countywide celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history. The vote followed an eight-hour barrage of comments from community members mostly opposed to the observance.
Many complained that authorizing schools to teach about LGBT issues throughout October would go against their religious beliefs and would present information to children that should be discussed only at home.
Some who spoke against LGBT History Month identified themselves as gay and said they worried such “indoctrination” was harmful to children, and would desensitize them to “inappropriate” sexual topics.
Meanwhile, Miami Beach officials fumed.
In response to the vote to nix the annual LGBT observance, officials in the oceanside city began to organize a mass rebellion.
In a joint move by the mayor and the city commission, Miami Beach officials drafted a scathing resolution to “express disappointment.”
“The vote against recognizing October as LGBT History Month is a shameful step backwards, and an alarming bellwether of rising anti-LGBT rhetoric that has swept Florida” since the passage of the state’s new Parental Rights in Education law, reads the resolution adopted by Miami Beach officials.
The law referenced in the resolution prohibits lessons on sexual orientation or gender identity for students in kindergarten through third grade. And it bans such lessons for older students unless they are “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate.”
When it was still under consideration by lawmakers, opponents dubbed it the “Don’t Say Gay” bill and spoke out against it across the country. Arising from that has been a heated national debate about whether young children should be exposed to or shielded from sexual content.
In their resolution, the Miami Beach mayor and city commissioners condemned the Miami-Dade school board’s actions to block LGBT History Month teachings and celebrations. They urged parents to “use the school board’s failure to act as an opportunity to engage with their children and address LGBT issues and history in a positive light.”
They urged principals across the county and governed by the Miami-Dade school board to ignore the ruling, and celebrate LGBT History Month “to the fullest extent permitted by law.”
And they published a template on the City of Miami Beach website, hoping it would “be downloaded and adopted by student bodies, clubs or other student organizations wishing to honor and recognize LGBT history.”
Florida law was broken during the tumult, says Alex Serrano, executive director of the Miami-Dade affiliate of County Citizens Defending Freedom-USA (CCDF). And more laws likely will be broken if officials carry out plans to observe LGBT History Month, he says.
Law-breaking started when Miami Beach city commissioner Alex Fernandez lobbied members of the city’s Committee for Quality Education and principals of the city’s six schools to support the resolution, without giving public notice of his official appearance at their meeting, Serrano says.
Serrano sent a letter of “notice and warning” Oct. 3 to all officials involved in the controversy. The letter states that up to 10 Florida laws have or will be broken if the rebellious schools continue pushing the issue.
The letter asks the school board of Miami-Dade County Public Schools to begin an investigation.
The probe, the letter states, is needed to ensure schools “remain in compliance,” with Florida laws that ensure, among other things, that parents are able to “review instructional materials,” and are able to “direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training of their minor children.”
Serrano’s group also is concerned about whether state laws will be followed, ensuring topics taught are “appropriate for the grade level and age group.”
Even Miami-Dade school board members and their attorney expressed concern about legal problems, before voting to reject LGBT History Month. They expressed that the LGBT teachings could violate the parental rights law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, in March.
After Miami-Dade school board members first backed away from the month-long celebration of LGBT issues in September, the citizen watchdogs of CCDF celebrated the vote as a win.
Now, they’re ready to fight again to keep the normalization of LGBT lifestyles out of schools.
The other side is equally passionate.
LGBT History Month observances began in 1994 as the creation of Missouri high school history teacher Rodney Wilson, the resolution by the Miami Beach officials states. It’s meant to coincide with National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11, and the anniversary of the first march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights in 1979.
The resolution accuses the Miami-Dade school board of “bowing down to the pressure of fringe groups, such as the Proud Boys and County Citizens Defending Freedom,” Serrano’s group.
By voting against LGBT History Month, the resolution states, the Miami-Dade school board “created a piece of LGBT History itself, but found itself on the wrong side of it.”
A San Diego State University study that suggests 1 percent of children ages 9-10 identify as gay, bisexual, or transgender, the resolution states. It also points to research by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States suggesting 48 percent of gay and bisexual college students knew their sexual preference in high school.
An LGBT youth between 13 and 24 commits suicide every 45 seconds in the United States, according to the Trevor Project, the resolution states. And, it asserts, 2021 studies showed that 42 percent of LGBT youth considered suicide last year.
But “respectful, positive treatment and discussions on gender and sexuality helps LGBT students feel safe, seen, valued, and respected, and decreases the educational, mental, and physical harms that they experience,” the resolution continues.
And LGBT History Month would have provided for teaching, proponents say, about Supreme Court rulings on Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized same-sex marriage, and Bostock v. Clayton, which protects employees from being fired for being gay or transgender.
The Epoch Times reached out to the City of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County Public Schools, but did not receive a response. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the nation’s fourth largest school system and serves nearly 332,000 students.
DeSantis repeatedly has said that parents, not teachers, should speak with children about sexual orientation and gender identity. His office declined to comment on the South Florida tug-of-war over the issue.
Serrano expects to see more parents speaking up on similar issues around the country.
In his community, many now are awake, not woke, he said, and the uprising against the ideology of the left is spreading across the nation.
“Parents and guardians across America are actively taking steps toward regaining their rights in education.”
Nanette Holt contributed to this report.