LGBT school board proclamation draws controversy

LGBT school board proclamation draws controversy

Martin County School Board members Tuesday night voted on what became a controversial proclamation related to specifically recognizing the LGBT community in schools.

Dozens of Martin County parents spoke out against the targeted proclamation, aiming to acknowledge LGBT history month "as an effective means of educating and calling to action the citizens of Martin County to work together to promote equal protection of all Martin County students and staff, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identifies or gender expression."

Other parents applauded the board for considering the proclamation, saying it was a way to support students and staff members who face struggles as part of the LGBT community.

"Little kids need their innocence," one parent said, opposing the proclamation.

"Our school system is to teach our kids to read, write and do arithmetic," one father against the proclamation said.

Multiple parents expressed concerns over having the LGBT lifestyle or topics regarding sexuality taught in schools, saying they did not find it appropriate for all ages.

"I get it. People of all different styles, all different types, all different kinds. Let our kids figure it out on their own," one father said.

Board members stressed the proclamation would not affect the curriculum but serve as a commitment to being supportive to the LGBT community.

Other parents sent letters to the school board and voiced support for the proclamation.

"I'm a minority in that lobby and I'm a minority in life and it feels very apparent tonight," one woman said. "The proclamation proposed is a step in the right direction and I applaud you."

"As a parent in this district, I fully support this proclamation," another mother said.

The proclamation was proposed by board member Victoria Defenthaler.

"Our young people need to be seen and to be heard and know they belong, and that's what we're talking about with the LGBTQ students," Defenthaler said.

Board members did not vote for the proclamation specific to the LGBT community as some hoped.

Instead, they voted 4-1 in support of a broader resolution to support anti-bullying and diversity in general, proposed by board member Christia Li Roberts.

The resolution stated, in part, that the school district will support programs, practices, and policies that support equity and inclusion, provide leadership to make the school district more inclusive to all marginalized groups, uphold anti-bullying policies, and support efforts in forming clubs and groups that provide support and connection for marginalized students.

The resolution also directs the superintendent to pick a weekly diverse role model for students.

Scripps Only Content 2020