FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Broward County School Board members on Wednesday unanimously passed a formal resolution recognizing LGBT History Month, making the school system the first in the nation to officially recognize LGBT History Month, which takes place every October.
The board’s resolution does not set any specific curriculum for teachers but will allow them to craft academic lessons of LGBT history that “may have been overlooked up until now.”
“Administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students are encouraged to take part in LGBT History Month in any way that is most positive and uplifting to their schools and communities,” the resolution states. “And to coordinate efforts to highlight exemplary role models from the LGBT community.”
During the public forum prior to the final vote, emotions ran high as students and community leaders spoke. Hollywood Hills High School senior Leo Washington told the board:
“I’m 18 and African-American,” he said. “All we want is to recognize them for who they are so we can recognize ourselves for who we are. That’s what I want for every student in every school.”
Washington said he knows of at least 30 people in his school who are LGBT but afraid to come out as such, not even in their own homes.
“There’s a lot of people out there that come to me and tell me they can’t come out,” he said. “It can be really bad.”
Broward County has 1.7M residents and its school system is the sixth-largest in the nation with over 260,000 students.
Michael Rajner, a local LGBT activist and former member of the school system’s diversity committee, noted that Florida‘s GOP dominated state legislature has shown little interest in LGBT-rights issues, saying that there is little chance of LGBT history being added to the state’s education curriculum anytime soon.
He added that LGBT History Month showcases LGBTQ activists, pioneers, who are an important part of American history, and it can also boost the self-esteem of adolescents who may be struggling with their own emerging sexual identities, and who are often the targets of bullying.
“It gives youth a role model to look up to and to realize that they themselves are a wonderful human being, and can be a productive, important member of our society.”
Last year the California legislature passed a law requiring state public schools to include notable LGBT figures and moments in history lessons.