The school board postpones LGBTQ+ history month


Lei Garcia

Instead of honoring LGBTQ+ month, the district honors our community members with a place they can feel accepted.

Overnight, thin slips of rainbow adorned papers popped up throughout the hallways and doors of Cape Coral High School. Only two words, written in bold font, decorated the paper: safe space. 

“They just appeared with no context,” senior Marilyn Tacktill said.

“They can give us presentations about not doing drugs and put up don’t do drugs posters but that has context and we know why they’re doing that. Those [rainbows] just appeared with no explanation.”

These slips of paper are part of October anti-bullying month but their underlying message is what led the School District of Lee County adding a proposal to their agenda for their workshop on October 5th.

The proposal would have established October as an LGBTQ+ history month. However, the proposal was pulled, which led many to attend the public meeting on October 6th and voice their opinions.

After parents saw this proposal on the agenda, they did not hesitate to bombard the board members of the Lee County school district with emails and calls. Most board members were very confused by these calls because they were not even aware of such a proposal.

“No one but one person on the board knew that this had been put on the agenda. I had no idea until I started to get phone calls and texts and emails and messages on Saturday morning and I’m thinking ‘What is going on?’ I had not even seen it because I hadn’t looked at the agenda yet. I usually do that on Sunday,” Lee County School District Board Member Gwnyetta S. Gittens said.

The confusion and outrage surrounded one keyword in the proposal: education. Parents did not want their elementary school children to be educated about sex or sexuality and told the board so during the October 6th meeting. 

“In one paragraph it says educate and support and all that. I said the word educate is a very loaded word. We don’t know who’s getting educated or who’s educating them. Where did they get their training? What does the curriculum look like? There were just too many questions,” Gittens said.

“We need to look at the educate piece because all the board members, except for one, had questions about what it means. I mean, how do I know what to tell people that are calling and saying ‘I don’t want you telling my seven-year-old about sex.’ I respond ‘Well I don’t know what the educate means’, and I have to find that out in order to speak on it.”

Despite the concerns having started with a realistic basis, as speaker after speaker got up to the stand and voice their opinions, the opinions became more incendiary. 

Alanis Garcia, a parent part of the LGBTQ+ community, saw these incendiary comments first hand “Before I came up, there were multiple people who had come up to the stand and basically used their minute to say that people who were LGBTQ+ were sexual deviants and perverts and that we needed to be kept away from their children,” Garcia said.

“I wanted to clarify that we are not those things and that children who are LGBTQ are not those things. Some of the religious people [who had spoken] also believed that the Earth was flat, that we’d ever been to space, and that viruses are fake and other beliefs that we have proven by science are wrong.”

The people in the room in support of the proposal couldn’t help but feel attacked as person after person got up and called members of the LGBTQ+ community monsters. “A lot of the LGBTQ+ was outnumbered that night so I don’t think there was a very good response to it,” Garcia said.

The board ultimately decided to pull the proposal, however, this does not mean the conversation is over.

“I kept saying on the board, If you’re going to take it off of the agenda, you need to do so with explanation, because the point was, we’re going to bring it up at our next workshop. You need to tell people that you’re not just ripping it off, that we are postponing it for further discussion,” Gittens said.

“We will be talking about If I have to keep bringing it up, we will be talking about it. This is not just something that you just close your eyes and hope it’ll go away because it’s not going to. Now that the line in the sand has been drawn. We have to face it.”

As far as what this means for students, many were disappointed in the decision.

“We need to be able to recognize what gay people have done for our nation. What their fight has been since the beginning of time, Quite honestly. I mean, it’s been a fight going on for over 100 years, and I believe it’s definitely necessary to be learning because it is a crucial part of our history,” Cape High senior and member of the city youth council Jaden Bradish said.

The decision was even more disheartening for students in the LGBTQ+ community. Senior and member of the LGBTQ+ community Marilyn Tacktill feels safe at school, however, she can’t help but to wish there was more recognition for the LGBTQ+ community.

“For a lot of people, including me, that’s a part of my life and it’s a part of my life that I wanted to hide for a really long time so it’s a really difficult situation but needs to be discussed,” Tacktill said.