Good morning Dr. Smiley. I’m preparing to visit my father out of state who just had his kidney removed and is now on dialysis but feel the need to share what I am hearing throughout my community.
Yesterday while the world observed the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB1069, expansion of “Don’t Say Gay”; SB254, banning gender affirming care; HB1521, the Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bill; and HB1423, the Anti-Drag Bill. The abhorrent actions by DeSantis now place Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals, and their families in grave danger.
Upon introduction of the above stated legislation, Broward County School Superintendent has been aware of the high likelihood for them to be enacted by the governor. As superintendent you have failed to advocate and protect LGBT-youth and families and remain idle as the attacks keep coming from Tallahassee.
Regretfully, the community has witnessed your failure to advocate in a transformational manner for the school district to engage authentically with diverse community stakeholders to develop strategies to solve the problems for where we find ourselves today.
BCPS is without curriculum or policy for sexual health education, and district administration have failed to replace the LGBTQ Critical Resource Guide with a tool to assist staff when attempting to support LGBT-youth. Under your watch, LGBT-youth and families have been bulldozed into the shadows.
My tone may sound harsh; however, the LGBT-community has been patient, lied to, and continually disrespected. This is compounded when Broward County School Board Member Brenda Fam continually spews anti-LGBT rhetoric from the dais and is left unchecked by you or School Board Chair Lori Alhadeff. You insisted that Fam prioritizes the interest of every student – yet, her constant hateful rants, especially towards transgender individuals during board meetings demonstrates otherwise.
Broward County Public Schools are not safe for LGBT-students, family, or employees. BCPS lacks single occupant restrooms so transgender individuals can simply use the restroom in peace and safety. To my knowledge, the only single occupant restroom at KCW is in the boardroom. Does the school district plan to retrofit buildings or is your solution to relegate transgender people to use a portable toilet in the parking lot?
I wish you had the same leadership as Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna or Escambia County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith to act courageously and speak out against book banning and the anti-LGBT oppressive laws and movements, but you haven’t shown any.
Given the superintendent selection process is underway, and you have weighed in on the issue, the community is concerned with your hand-picked nominee’s ability or commitment to solve some of these critical concerns.
I am urging school board members to ensure our next Superintendent will affirmatively respond to the needs and concerns of the LGBT community.
Michael Emanuel Rajner