The school board for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system in Florida rejected a resolution to recognize October as LGBTQ history month. Photo courtesy of Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Sept. 7 (UPI) -- The school board for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system in Florida rejected a resolution to recognize October as LGBTQ history month.
The decision was made at a marathon 14-hour board meeting that began Wednesday and carried over to the early hours of Thursday morning. The meeting, which included a tense public comment session, was broadcast by the school district and ended with a 5-3 vote not to make the resolution.
According to WUSF, the line to enter the school board meeting stretched around the block before doors opened as members of the Proud Boys far-right hate group gathered on the sidewalk. The meeting was standing room only.
The tense scene shows how far Florida, once considered an electoral swing state, has shifted right under Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican Party, which controls state politics. It also is emblematic of recent state attacks on the LGBTQ community, particularly on those members who are transgender.
"Respectfully, I shouldn't be here. I should be at band rehearsal," Finn Stewart, a high school junior, told the board. "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."
The resolution is largely symbolic to recognize and give voice to students who identify as LGBTQ. But many of the angered parents who spoke at the meeting voiced concerns about classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The meeting also highlighted the influence of Miami's Cuban population, with community members including references to Christian teachings in their comments.
"The School Board has pushed Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Asian History Month and I'm sure other agendas. While, at the surface, these events sound good, they really are divisive," said Fernando Valdez, who attended. "They help cement a wedge between our kids by highlighting their differences."
Maxx Fenning, the founder of the queer advocacy group PRISM, said that students would still celebrate the start of LGBTQ history month out of the eyes of their parents.
"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," Fenning said.
"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 through line of our history."