Broward County Schools in South Florida First in Nation to Recognize LGBT History Month
The Broward County School Board unanimously voted to officially recognize October as LGBT History Month.
Emotions ran high as the vote came on Sept. 19 at 12:51 p.m., and was preceded by a dozen or so speakers from both public office and private civilians, like 18-year-old Leo Washington, a Hollywood Hills High School student, actor, football team captain, and club president.
“I’m 18 and African-American,” he said, choking up. “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.”
One of the influential community leaders who pushed this measure and was recognized by the board as having done so was Michael Rajner, a local LGBT activist.
“There’s some amazing staff at the district,” Rajner told SFGN. “We have a school board now, unlike previous years, that has amazing support to protect equal opportunity for all students.”
Board Member Laurie Levinson presented the resolution and read it in its entirety (see below) before moderating the various speakers.
“It’s the first step to equality for LGBT people in our schools,” she said. “Knowing more about these individuals can be an asset.”
Board Member Robin Bartleman told the various student speakers that they have made history, too.
“You’re going to be the individuals that students will read about in future LGBT history months,” she said. “Every child deserves to feel safe — not just in their school, but in their own skin.”
The resolution does not set a curriculum or force any teachers into anything, but rather opens the door for teachers to create curriculum surrounding LGBT history and teach another segment in school that may have been overlooked up until now.
“Over the last several years, we’ve had wonderful progress— we often criticize an entity such as the school board for not doing things for the community,” Rajner said. “But lately, there’s been a wonderful partnership between the school board and community leaders to really figure out what we need.”
Check out the historic resolution passed by Broward County Schools:
Resolution Lgbt History Month 2012