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With little controversy, Palm Beach County Schools support LGBTQ history resolution

A resolution to honor LGBTQ History Month created division and strife in two South Florida counties, but in Palm Beach County, it sailed through with little controversy.

The School Board voted 5-0 with no discussion Wednesday evening to recognize October as LGBTQ History Month. The vote followed a half hour of public comments, where almost all speakers voiced support for it.

Several speakers told personal stories about their own journey as an LGBTQ person or loving someone who is gay or transgender.

“Acknowledging the existence of queer people through history, we are proving the fact that Palm Beach Schools isn’t a place for hate, nor for exclusion,” said Nicholas Herrera, a junior who leads a Gay-Straight Alliance at Boca Raton High.

Kate Marr, a teacher in the district, said the “bravest person I know” is her transgender daughter, who is a high school student.

“it is a blessing to be her mother because she has taught me how to be brave, standing up for her rights has stretched me in ways I didn’t know were possible,” the mom said.

“You need to be as brave as my daughter every day when she throws up as her authentic self to get an education because one day she will make history and be one of the people you celebrate,” Marr said.

A speaker who identified herself as Karen referred to recent anti-LGBTQ legislation that passed in Tallahassee, which has included bills related to drag shows, preferred pronouns, classroom instruction, transgender restroom use and gender-affirming care.

“It’s a fight right now to be gay in Florida, and it shouldn’t be,” Karen said. “By voting yes for this proclamation, you are sending a very, very clear message to our state government that you don’t agree with how the state is moving forward. Tonight is a vote for inclusion.”

Only one speaker voiced opposition to the resolution, Barry Romoser, of Palm Beach Gardens.

“What you are doing is lifting up the LGBT and saying they should be acknowledged, they should be revered,” he said. “I doubt the majority of your 180,000 parents would agree they should be lifted up above their own children.”

The easy passage of the resolution stood in stark contrast to the counties to the south, where opposition was much stronger. Unlike Miami-Dade and Broward, the Palm Beach County School Board doesn’t have any Republican members, who have been more likely to oppose LGBTQ issues.

An effort to approve a year’s worth of resolution at an August meeting of the Broward School Board became heated due to the inclusion of three LGBTQ-specific resolutions.

Some in the LGBTQ community clashed with conservative opponents, with each side accusing the other of heckling. Broward School Board member Lori Alhadeff interrupted its meeting several times, giving repeated warnings and instructing security to escort one woman out.

After 3 1/2 hours of debate, all resolutions in Broward passed 6-2.

The Miami-Dade County School Board considered the resolution in September, but the conservative majority on the board rejected it after a 13-hour meeting. The meeting included numerous speakers for and against, and an appearance by the far-right group the Proud Boys, according to reports.

Although the Miami-Dade School District’s lawyer said it complied with state laws, several board members said it might run afoul of the Parental Rights in Education Law, dubbed by critics as “don’t say gay.”

“We say to teachers to comply with the law and don’t teach what the law says you can’t teach, but with the other hand we would be saying feel free to celebrate this and speak about how you want to incorporate it into your classroom discussions but don’t let it be instruction,” Danny Espino, vice chairman of the Miami-Dade School Board, said at its meeting.

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