Updated: Oct. 29 at 12:30 p.m. A Broward School Board member took students from Wilton Manors Elementary to eat at a Wilton Manors Restaurant.
Now this simple field trip through their neighborhood has Fox News and its acolytes whipped up into a scandalous, pearl-clutching frenzy.
Board member Sarah Leonardi took the elementary school children on a walk through their neighborhood, and stopped in for lunch at Rosie’s Bar & Grill on Wilton Drive. She posted pictures of the outing on her Facebook page, with the caption: “I was SO honored to be invited to chaperone Wilton Manors Elementary’s field trip to the incredible Rosie’s! The students and I had a fun walk over and learned a lot about our community! A huge thank you to Rosie's Bar and Grill for hosting this special field trip every year!”
She proudly mentions that the field trip is an annual event, but if Fox and their social media followers have their way, this will be the last year. They portray it as a day at a gay bar. Of course, Rosie’s is a restaurant that, like so many establishments, also has a bar. But that’s not important to people raging against the menu. Pictures of the regular menu were posted online and Items like The Big Girl Burgers and Rhoda Cowboy were called out.
However, the students got a kids menu, with three blandly-named items: Mini Burgers or Cheeseburgers, Grilled Cheese, and Chicken Fingers.
Once Fox News posted a somewhat-factual version of the field trip, readers took it from there and fanned the flames of fear-mongering.
Comments, which are mostly from people who have never been to Wilton Manors much less to Rosie’s, target Leonardi, the school board, and the LGBT community at large. “Sadly, I've recently been attacked with bigoted comments and death threats,” she told SFGN. “My friends, family, and church have also been targeted. These attacks have no place in our society. The threats have been referred to the appropriate authorities, and I will continue to work hard to engage with my community, spread positivity, and represent my district on the school board.”
Threats have been coming in the forms of emails, social media, and calls to the school. SFGN has been told they are being turned over to the proper agencies, but haven’t been told exactly who is handling them.
As for Leonardi, she is standing by her school and the field trip. “As a School Board Member, I am committed to staying engaged with my community,” Leonardi said. “I'm always proud to join classes for field trips and events, especially when our schools are connecting with the vibrant small businesses in my district.”
People who actually live in the city and know the neighborhood are coming to her defense.
Wilton Manors City Commissioner Chris Caputo is proud of her leadership.
“Our community is lucky to have leaders like Sarah Leonardi looking out for children's best interests.”
He’s quick to point out the nefarious undertones of the story.
“Fox News’ implication that she is grooming kids to be gay is absurd. She is smart enough to know taking students to a restaurant owned by an LGBT individual isn't grooming them to be gay any more than taking student to Bona Italian would be grooming them to be Italian. We're born this way!”