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Miami school board votes against recognizing LGBTQ History Month

Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

(MIAMI) — The Miami-Dade County School board voted against recognizing October as LGBTQ history month in a 1-8 vote, as the effects of the Parental Rights in Education law continue to trickle down.

H-11, a resolution for Miami-Dade schools to formally recognize LGBTQ history month, stated that the month “has been 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.” It was voted down on Wednesday.

This year, it included providing resources for 12th grade teachers to teach about major Supreme Court cases on same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination protections such as Obergefell v. Hodges and Bostock v. Clayton County.

In 2021, Miami school board members voted overwhelmingly to recognize the month — 7-1. Just one year later, the board took a different route. Board members expressed confusion over whether the initiative would break the classroom restrictions set by the Parental Rights in Education law.

The law, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by LGBTQ activists, bans classroom instruction on “sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through grade 3 or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”

It went into effect in July.

Critics say that the law will silence LGBTQ people, as well as ignore the history of LGBTQ people in the U.S. Supporters say the law gives more power to the parents.

The meeting took a rowdy turn during the public comment portion of the night, with more than 100 people speaking that night, according to School Board vice chair Steve Gallon III. Debate over H-11 lasted more than five hours.

Andrea S. Pita Mendez, the 17-year-old school board’s student advisor, said after weeks of speaking to students, to teachers and others, she hoped the board would pass the initiative.

“Our students want this to pass,” said Mendez, who is not a voting member of the board. In an impassioned speech that stoked both applause and upset, Mendez told the board that LGBTQ history plays an important role in U.S. history.

“I heard many of you speak of the fact that in your generations this wasn’t seen, this wasn’t heard – you grew up in a very different time than we are,” she said.

Though the country is highly polarized, she said it “does not take away from the fact that we are the ones that sit in those classrooms, that we embrace diversity and inclusivity because we do love each other and we do support each other and we do want to see each other go very far in the world.”

Christi Fraga, who represents District 5, voted against the recognition both years, saying that H-11 creates a “hostile” environment.

“If we are going to allow the teachers to decide what will be taught in classrooms during this time, that concerns me,” Fraga said.

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