The Miami-Dade School Board decided against declaring October LGBTQ+ History Month.
Parents, teachers, and students debated the issue for three hours on Wednesday, during which one group emphasized indoctrination while the other cited the pink triangle used by Nazis to isolate gays and lesbians. The board voted 8-1 against the measure.
“A year ago, the board supported an inclusive LGBTQ+ month measure in a 7 to 1 vote, and the only thing that has changed is that Ron DeSantis is making Florida more hateful,” says Cuban-American social activist Mike Rivero.
Rivero is with the group Cubanos Palante, which sets out to represent the Cuban-American community in progressive spaces and to demonstrate that the Cuban community is not a monolith.
Rivero says he’s experienced an incredible amount of bullying and abuse after right-wing trolls targeted one of his tweets.
“Although I am straight, I recognize that I probably went through a fraction of what LGBTQ+ people facing bigotry go through, but I can say I understand.”
He says that since tweeting about the school board meeting Tuesday, he’s been inundated by right-wing trolls who have targeted his account and him personally for attacks, including death threats.
“I do believe that this is a result of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric ad culture wars coming out of the legislature and the governor’s office," board member Lucia Baez-Geller, who was the lone vote to recognize the month, told NBC News.
One group that targeted Miami-Dade Public Schools is Gays Against Groomers. It's run by a woman claiming to be a lesbian named Jaimee Michell. The group had trucks drive around the city claiming the school district teaches "radical gender ideology."
Above: The troll account Gays Against Groomers sponsored a video-wall truck with exclusionary language and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric around Miami before the school board meeting.
Members of the Proud Boys engaged people, including one with a trans flag, with hateful rhetoric outside the school board’s headquarters, where people waited to speak, the Miami Herald reports.
The only opponent of recognizing LGBTQ+ month last year was Christi Fraga, who said, “endorsing and putting it out as something that everyone has to participate in does start to cross a line of imposition onto family values,” the Associated Press reports.
Many opposed the measure, some claiming it violated their religious beliefs, while others charged the board with indoctrinating children and abusing them sexually. In addition, the measure was falsely portrayed as a new curriculum that would teach LGBTQ+ topics to students without parental consent.
Equality Florida blasted the decision. In a statement to The Advocate, the organization condemned “unprecedented vitriol from extremists” at the meeting.
“[The] vote is one more proof point of the sweeping chilling effect of Florida’s discriminatory Don’t Say LGBTQ law and the toxic anti-LGBTQ environment being fostered by Governor DeSantis,” said Equality Florida senior political director Joe Saunders. “The Don’t Say LGBTQ law is rooted in the same dangerous tropes about LGBTQ people and baseless attacks on teachers that were on full display in public comments at last night’s hearing. We are shocked and alarmed to see this reversal from the Miami Dade School Board. This is a horrible signal to send to the thousands of LGBTQ youth in Miami-Dade County public schools. Voting down this simple recognition of our LGBTQ community makes our schools less safe.”
Republicans, led by DeSantis, have scoffed at the assertion that the law prevents people from talking about subjects. Instead, they say the law gives parents control of what their children learn in school
Election attorney Juan-Carlos Planas points out the hypocrisy afoot.
He tweeted, "If you say that having LGBTQ History Awareness month violates the Parental Rights in Education bill, then you are admitting that @GovRonDeSantis LIED and it WAS a Don’t Say Gay piece of legislation."
Because most board members opposed the resolution and argued it violated the “don’t say gay” law, Equality Florida points out that it was a demonstration of sweeping censorship. The organization says the district had been at the forefront of supporting its LGBTQ+ students, but no more.
“Last night, board members abandoned that mission in service to anti-LGBTQ fear, misinformation, and a governor obsessed with a future presidential run,” the statement concluded.