Florida school board votes not to recognise LGBTQ+ History Month

A person holds up a rainbow LGBTQ+ Pride flag

A school board in Florida has voted against recognising the month of October as LGBTQ+ History Month after a 12-hour marathon meeting.

The Miami-Dade County School Board, voted 5-3 to reject a proposal to acknowledge the month-long observance.

Over 100 people signed up to speak at the lengthy school board meeting, which began on Wednesday (6 September) afternoon and didn’t conclude until the early hours of Thursday (7 September) morning.

One supporter of the proposal argued that suicide rates had been high among LGBTQ+ youths compared to their straight counterparts, while an opponent countered that the school board should remove “all history months and focus on teaching kids math, reading and writing”, CBS News reports.

Carolyn Bartroff Cardenas, a student at Miami Beach Senior High School, Florida, told the board that students were “asking you our representatives to help give us a voice to a group who are underrepresented, sometimes persecuted.”

Florida’s Miami-Dade School Board has voted not to recognise LGBTQ+ History Month. (Getty Images)

Another student, 11th grader Finn Stewart, told the board: “I deserve to be able to see myself represented in my school, just like anyone else. LGBTQ history is history, whether you want to accept it or not.”

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He continued: “Respectfully, I shouldn’t be here. I should be at band rehearsal. Unfortunately, this is what it has come to — me and my friends leaving school straight away, driving 45 minutes to stand before you and beg for our history to be told.”

Nonetheless, when it eventually came down to a vote, the board determined that LGBTQ+ History Month would not be recognised.

Among those who voted against the proposal were those appointed to the board or endorsed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Some committee members expressed concern that passing the proposal would violate the Parental Rights in Education (or the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill), passed by DeSantis last March.

Vice Chair of the board, Danny Espino cited the bill in his decision, per Local 10 News, saying: “At this point, unfortunately, I cannot support this.”

Board members cited DeSantis’ Don’t Say Gay bill as the reason for their ‘no’ vote. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, fellow board member Monica Colucci stated: “As constitutional officers, we have to uphold state law and it’s very clear what that law is.”

A school board attorney pointed out that similar proposals had already been passed in Broward and Orange counties, and were not found to be breaking the law.

Board member Lucia Baez-Geller, who sponsored the measure, argued: “Our students are out there and they’re visible, and we can’t put them back in the shadows, unfortunately, like some people would like to.”

This week’s disappointing result marks the second year in a row that the LGBTQ+ History proclamation has been rejected.

Despite the outcome, queer youths and their allies will still celebrate October as LGBTQ+ History Month, Maxx Fenning, founder of PRISM said, per WUSF News.

“The fact still remains – 1 October will mark the start of LGBTQ+ History Month just as it has for the past 29 years,” he said.

“Queer youth will celebrate the grief, the pain but — most importantly — the joy of our queer elders. 

“There is nothing that anyone can do to take that away from us.

“The only thing that your vote today will do is show those students that they are celebrating our community with the support of this body or in the defiant spirit that marks a throughline of our history.”