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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

MDCPS board Rejects LGBTQ History Month

Within the county of Miami-Dade, the School Board rejected the recognition of LGBTQ History Month in the meeting on September 7th, 2022. October is recognized as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning History Month since 1994 by a high school history teacher in Missouri, Rodney Wilson. The School Board meeting spoke about the recognition of LGBTQ History Month among other recognitions such as National Hispanic Heritage Month. The two Supreme Court cases, Obergefell v. Hodges and Bostock v. Clayton County, would also be included in the 12th grade government curriculum as these cases highlight the LGBTQ community. 

Tensions rose as there were different perspectives from multiple groups, including the Proud Boys, parents, and students, one of which was Andrea S. Pita Mendez, the school board’s student advisor. Though not a voting member, Mendez expressed student support for the measure, sponsored by the School Board Member Lucia Baez-Geller. Efforts were made to contact Andrea S. Pita Mendez.

Proposal H-11 was ultimately rejected through a majority vote of 8 – 1. This differs from the decision made by the School Board in the year 2021 with a vote of 7 – 1 in approval to recognize October as LGBTQ History Month. 

MAST Academy english teacher Ms. Peters-Jorge expressed the reaction that was given to this decision, stating that all students should be included in these forms of recognition.

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“I thought it was cowardly. I felt that if we are going to promote ourselves as a school district that represents all students then, we need to represent all students. And I don’t think they understand the concept of intersectionality, meaning that we just don’t have one identity, we have multiple identities. A lot of people assume that LGBTQ History Month is Pride Month, which is June. There is a big difference. I feel like it’s more commercial as far as Pride Month is concerned whereas this goes into the history of everything”, stated Ms. Peters-Jorge.

As part of the H-11 Proposal, two Supreme Court cases would be added to the 12th grade government curriculum. The Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case highlights the right to same-sex marriages and couples through the clauses of Due Process and Equal Protection. The second Supreme Court case, Hodges and Bostock v. Clayton County, protects employees at work who are at risk of being discriminated against based on their sexuality. 

MAST Academy government teacher Mr. Companioni expressed that before the Parents in Education bill situation, “anybody could comment on [the situation] whether or not it was relevant.” 

Mr. Companioni also expressed the idea of censorship when speaking about the two Supreme Court cases and their content, leading government teachers to become aware of what can not be done or said in the classroom in regards to the community. 

“There are things that I can’t say or shouldn’t say because of decency, but that has already been so established that I won’t have to think about the fact and I can just teach freely. This [the current situation] has not been established and it is going to be difficult for the near term or for the midterm for teachers who have to keep that on the forefront of their mind”, stated Mr. Companioni. 

Senior Enzo Fouquet also expressed the student perspective of the situation if the two Supreme Court cases were added to the 12th grade government curriculum, mentioning the advance for the fight for LGBTQ rights and the move toward positive connections. 

“This should be part of the curriculum because it’s really important because a lot of history teachers simply aren’t going to cover it if they are not meant to. I think it would genuinely be a great way to educate people, just to tell them about recent history because a lot of the advances we made in LGBTQ rights are very recent but they are still relevant and they are still extremely relevant to the conversation today. Giving that to a lot of kids is going to genuinely change their perception and opinion in a positive way toward LGBTQ people”, stated Fouquet. 

The legislature overseen in the state of Florida affects the decision in rejecting the recognition. Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, on March 28th, 2022. The bill does not allow the instruction of sexual orientation and gender idenitity in the classroom for grade levels kindergarten through third grade. The issues that have revolved around the signed bill have led differing groups to voice their opinion. On March 10, 2022, Florida students participated in a walkout to protest against the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, including at MAST Academy. The walkout allowed many individuals to express their genuine emotions toward the passing of the bill while a Pride flag blew in the breeze of the field. 

“Students made signs outside of the cafeteria at lunch and left their classrooms at 1:20. Students got up to share personal stories of how they worry this bill will impact the safety of LGBTQ youth in Florida”, The Beacon reported in March 2022.

In compliance with the state of law, Florida has disapproved of the topic highlighting the LGBTQ community within the classroom through the Parental Rights In Education Bill as well as the informal rejection to the recognition of LGBTQ History Month.

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MDCPS board Rejects LGBTQ History Month