Watch: School District's Proposed LGBTQ Proclamation Draws Parental Support, Objections

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday October 23, 2020

Watch: School District's Proposed LGBTQ Proclamation Draws Parental Support, Objections
  (Source:creencap/WPTV)

Parents showed up by the dozen to weigh in on a Florida school district's proposed LGBTQ proclamation. Unsurprisingly, the proposal proved to be controversial, reports local news station WPTV.

The proclamation, which would have acknowledged LGBT History Month in support of LGBTQ students, teachers, and staff, was considered by the Martin County School Board at its Oct. 20 meeting. Martin County is within the Port St. Lucie metropolitan area. Some parents voiced their support for the idea, while others suggested that it would endanger the innocence of their children, despite assurances that the proclamation would not entail any changes to the school curriculum.

"Little kids need their innocence," one woman said. A father spoke about his "very, very innocent fourth-grader" who "still likes to sleep with stuffed animals." Said the father: "He's not ready to hear about this."

"I get it," said one man when his turn to address the room came. "I get it. People of all different styles, all different types, all different kinds. Let our kids figure it out on their own."

Said another man: "Our school system is to teach our kids to read, write and do arithmetic."

The proposal drew faith-based objections, as well, reported TCPalm. Parent and former teacher Elizabeth Tefft declared the proclamation to be "a glaring problem for people of a biblically-based faith (and) opposes the righteous boundaries set in place by God our creator."

Added Tefft: "We can love and respect other people's choices without celebrating them as something we should all embrace,"

The measure also had supporters at the meeting, including a transgender student. Cyrus Jasper Spellman, 16, said, "There are plenty of gay and trans people in the schools," going on to add: "That's all we're asking for - to be our authentic selves."

One woman spoke about being "a minority in that lobby, and I'm a minority in life, and it feels very apparent tonight.

"The proclamation proposed is a step in the right direction and I applaud you," she added.

Board member Victoria Defenthaler received no support from other board members when she proposed the proclamation, despite several on the board reportedly having expressed support before the meeting, TCPalm reported.

Defenthaler argued that the proclamation would have been a welcome sign of support for the school system's LGBTQ youth, saying, "Our young people need to be seen and to be heard and know they belong, and that's what we're talking about with the LGBTQ students."

While the proclamation did not move forward, the board did adopt a resolution "to reinforce the district's commitment to diversity and inclusion for all students and staff," TCPalm reported.

The same article also cited a CDC study that found that more than 18% of Florida's students identify as LGBTQ.

"Nearly 60% of LGBTQ+ students have experienced depression or feelings of sadness and hopelessness, compared to just 30% of heterosexual students, the same CDC study concluded," TCPalm reported.

Watch the WPTV news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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