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Broward School Board expected to honor Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month

BY MICHAEL VASQUEZ, MRVASQUEZ@MIAMIHERALD.COM

Broward County School Board members on Wednesday are expected to approve a formal resolution in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month, which takes place every October.

The LGBT History Month tradition, started in 1994 by a Missouri high school teacher, has previously been recognized and promoted by a wide assortment of politicians, including members of Congress and Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia. In all of Philadelphia’s municipal buildings, for example, a rainbow flag is flown alongside the U.S. flag every October.

Honoring gay history within the realm of K-12 education is still a groundbreaking (and potentially controversial) public statement. Unlike California, which last year added LGBT history to the state’s education curriculum, Broward’s resolution is nonbinding, and largely symbolic.

The resolution seems to leave the door open for schools to voluntarily promote LGBT History Month, if they so choose.

“Administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students are encouraged to take part in LGBT History Month in any way that is most positive and uplifting to their schools and communities,” the proposed resolution states. “And to coordinate efforts to highlight exemplary role models from the LGBT community.”

In Florida, where a Republican-dominated state Legislature has shown little interest in gay-rights issues, there is little chance of LGBT history being added to the state’s education curriculum anytime soon. Still, a supportive resolution from Broward, the nation’s sixth-largest school district, would be significant. Gay-rights advocates say LGBT History Month showcases civil-rights pioneers who are an important part of American history, and it can also boost the self-esteem of adolescents who may be struggling with their own emerging sexual identities, and who are often the targets of bullying.

“It gives youth a role model to look up to,” said Michael Rajner, a former member of the Broward school system’s Diversity Committee. “And to realize that they themselves are a wonderful human being, and can be a productive, important member of our society.”

Rajner has pushed for adoption of a LGBT History Month resolution, as has Broward School Board member Laurie Rich Levinson.

Levinson couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday, but Rajner expressed confidence the resolution would be approved, as School Board members have been strongly supportive of the LGBT community in the past.

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