Mariantonia Mejia | Staff Writer
On September 6th of this year, the Miami-Dade school board voted to designate October as LGBTQ History Month.
Those there to witness the decision saw the Proud Boys protesting outside the building in shirts that linked the queer community to pedophiles. This tense and hateful tone carried on throughout the proceedings for many hours.
Unsurprisingly, the measure was shot down in a 5-3 vote.
Another blow to the Floridian queer community, the denial does not come as a shock to those who have watched the far-right wave of fear-mongering and deeply bigoted homophobia and transphobia that has been swallowing Florida whole.
Last school year, approximately 300 books were removed from school libraries, effectively banning them, in compliance with the enactment of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Many of the books on this list deal with queer themes, such as “All Boys Aren’t Blue” or “Gender Queer.”
This frightening censorship, much of which centers around the hot-button topic of “parental rights,” goes hand in hand with the school boards’ denial of LGBTQ History Month.
Hate groups and far-right parents are claiming that educating children about queer culture and history crosses the line between informing and instructing them to be a certain way. This sentiment echoes that of the School Board Vice Chair, Danny Espino.
“I don’t know how a teacher is expected to recognize, observe, and celebrate this month without being perceived by students’ parents as instruction… or without crossing the line and becoming instruction,” said Espino.
This idea that it is impossible to teach young adults about basic queer history without somehow “indoctrinating” them into blindly becoming queer through no other factor than school influence is laughably absurd.
We mandate the teaching of American or World history to all ages, ranging from the founding of this country to the rituals of the Mayan empire. If it were as easy as being exposed to being brainwashed, we’d have groups of middle schoolers trying to sacrifice each other to the Mayan god of the sun or dueling with old-timey rifles in the parking lot.
Luckily, that isn’t how the sharing of information works. We as a society have proven very capable of creating a system that can give our children the tools to learn without forcing them to become what they are learning about.
LGBTQ History Month teaches children about tolerance of those different from them, celebrate queer folks on their achievements, and help queer kids feel safe and protected by their educators.
Far-right wingers preach the importance of freedom of speech, especially their right to hate, as a recent letter to the editor argued, but cannot handle that right being exercised by educators.
Though there are many limits placed on the First Amendment rights of teachers, if they remain neutral while teaching, there is no reason why they should be barred from teaching queer history.
At this point, the constant attacks have begun to wear me and a lot of other queer folks down. The rapid increase in queerphobic laws and rhetoric in Florida makes me wonder if it would be better to pack up and leave.
Our government, Governor Ron DeSantis at the head, has shown us time and time again that not only will they not protect us, but they are actively out to eradicate us. If we back down now, they will win.
As exhausting and unrewarding as this fight may be, I urge my queer comrades to keep fighting and to exist as loudly and visibly as possible. We deserve to exist and live in Florida.
The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.