The Palm Beach County School Board followed through with their promise from last month’s meeting: the resolution proclaiming October as LGBT History Month passed with a 5-0 vote from the board, no discussion among the board members, and little pushback from public comment.
The Broward County School Board and Miami-Dade School Board both debated this issue before October began, with Broward voting 6-2 in support at their August meeting after hours of debate and the measure failing at the Miami-Dade School Board meeting with a 5-3 vote after a 13-hour meeting in September where the Proud Boys was in attendance.
Palm Beach County has a seven-member board, while Broward and Miami-Dade have nine-member boards.
Community members took to public comment to express their opinions on the resolution, with the majority voicing support.
Nicholas Herrera, a junior at Boca Raton Community High School as well as president of their school’s GSA and a PRISM Student Ambassador, shared how they grew up in the Palm Beach County school system feeling like they did not receive acknowledgement or respect for their identity.
“In 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,” Herrera said. “By accepting the existence of the queer experience, our schools become a safer space for queer students and encourage a feeling of acceptance and security for students in and outside the LGBTQ+ community.”
Kate Marr stated both her and her husband work for the district, her being a speech pathologist and her husband a high school math teacher. They have three children who attend school in the district, and Marr wanted to share the experience of her oldest daughter.
Marr stated her daughter was a funny, intelligent and outgoing computer whiz who has been thriving in high school, while also happening to be transgender.
“My daughter is the bravest person that I know. It is a blessing to be her mother because she's taught me how to be brave,” she said, while choking back tears. “Standing up for her rights has stretched me in ways that I didn't know were possible. When she came out in the ninth grade, the first thing we did was look for support. We found it at Compass LGBTQ Community Center and our local Methodist Church. It came from family, friends, doctors, teachers and administrators. And now I'm asking that it come from you, the School Board of Palm Beach County.”
Emmy Kenny is a local artist and educator. She shared her personal experience on why LGBT History Month is vital.
“On a personal note, when I was younger and coming out and trying to feel the sense of pride that everyone was talking about, I really didn't feel it until I started learning about LGBTQ, the struggle and the resistance and the icons that came before me. And that's really what gave me courage to be who I was, to come out and to feel a sense of hope,” Kenny said.
One of the few dissenters was one of the first speakers during public comment. Barry Romoser stated that he and his wife live in Palm Beach Gardens and had four children who had gone through the Palm Beach County school system.
He shared that he was a Christian, and he believes “what this book says,” while holding up the Bible. He stated that he had a problem with the proclamation because the board would be addressing a “lifestyle” he doesn’t agree with.
“This is a lifestyle that is not, in my opinion, a norm. It’s outside what it should be,” he said. “There are 168,000 students in this county, what you're doing is you're lifting LBGT and saying they should be acknowledged, they should be looked at as revered. I'll use that word ‘revered’ and I doubt that the majority of the parents of these 180,000 would agree that they should be lifted above their own children.”