Miami school district designates October LGBTQ History Month — one board member votes no

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October will now be LGBTQ History Month in Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the School Board decided Wednesday.

The month of October was chosen because in October 1979, the first LGBTQ national march in Washington was held to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, where members of the gay community clashed with police for six days over raids on gay bars that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan.

“The month now also includes Spirit Day on the third Thursday of October, on which people around the country wear purple in support of LGBTQ youth,” District 3 Board Member Lucia Baez-Geller, the chief sponsor of the item, wrote in the proposal. “A number of LGBTQ historical events and people of all races have contributed to the history of equality for all people, and LGBTQ individuals have made and continue to make lasting contributions to strengthen the fabric of American society.”

The vote was 7-1, with District 5 Board Member Christi Fraga being the only “no” vote, saying, “I feel like there are things we should not impose.”

Christi Fraga
Christi Fraga

“I want my son to learn history, American history” Fraga said. “And, while LGBTQ history is definitely valued and I understand that many, many people have had to face very hard moments, and I want to support them, and I encourage them to fight for what’s right, and I believe in equality, and I feel that we do such a great job at that. But, I feel like highlighting this really creates an imposition on certain values that some may not be comfortable with.”

District 7 Board Member Lubby Navarro was not at the school board meeting and did not vote.

Baez-Geller said the item does not include any curriculum that any student will be mandated to take. She said much of the activities that will be taking place during the month are already taking place within the school system.

“I would call them opt-in activities, which are not throughout the whole school. For example, the Day of Silence. The Peace Week. Anti-bullying student campaigns. ‘No Place for Hate’ campaigns. Anti-Defamation League,” Baez Geller said. “Expanding after-school club activities. And, just generally expanding the presence and awareness that, again, is part of our practices that we always do.”

Fraga said her objection to the designation is based on respecting individual families’ rights not to have their children participate in things they don’t believe in, and not her lack of support for LGBTQ rights.

“It’s something that I cannot support. I just want to put that on the record, and I hope that’s understood,” she said.

School Board Vice Chair Steve Gallon III and School Board Member Dorothy Bendross-MIndingall, who are both Black, said they supported the item because it is another step in the country’s path toward civil rights for all people.

“I’m obligated to support the item because my DNA compels me to support inclusion. It compels me to support equity, it compels me to support equality. It compels me to support fairness. It compels me to support respect. It compels me to support humanity. And, it compels me to support love in all forms,” Gallon said.

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