In an unscheduled vote at a special meeting on Thursday, July 28, the Miami-Dade County School Board reversed a contentious 5-4 vote the previous week, this time voting 5-4 to accept two textbooks from comprehensive health which have been the subject of heated debate.
School board president Perla Tabares Hantman has moved to overturn last week’s vote in which members rejected an independent officer’s recommendation to adopt the books. She then reversed her vote from a “No” to a “Yes”, explaining that she had learned that without the books, Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS) would not comply with the Department of Florida Education in Health Education. .
The texts, Global Health Competencies for Middle School and Global Health Competencies for Secondaryhad raised the ire of conservative activists, who opposed content involving gender identity, sexual health, abortion and pregnancy prevention.
Those who opposed the adoption of the books included members of right-wing groups Moms for Liberty Miami and County Citizens Defending Freedomwho argued that the texts contained material “inappropriate for children” and that 11-year-olds should not be told about abortions or gender identity.
On Thursday, school board members made it clear that the books would only be available online and that students would only be able to access the chapters designated for their grade level. (For example, sixth graders would not be able to access chapters approved for another year’s curriculum.)
School board member Luisa Santos, who voted in favor of the books this week and last, also reiterated that any parent who opposes the sex-ed curriculum can, under law, withdraw her child in the class.
“He who does not want [these lessons] has protections against state law and council policy. It’s not our role to deny everyone that option, it’s our role to make sure everyone has that option,” Santos said from the stage.
While the outcome of Thursday’s vote came as a shock to observers who thought the matter was settled, the reversal was far from the only craziness that transpired at the special meeting.
For the edification of our readers, new times compiled some highlights.
Homophobic and transphobic comments abound
Many public speakers came out in support of comprehensive sex education in schools, including queer MDCPS students and a former student who spoke about how health education that included topics such as gender identity would have helped his dysphoria during that she was in school.
But as LGBTQ speakers watched from their seats after sharing their stories, naysayers took to the microphone to howl transphobic and homophobic whistles and talking points.
“There are two genders: male and female,” said Christina Ortega, mother and supporter of Moms for Liberty Miami. “Next week it will be 11 genders. Gay culture is not sex education.”
Moms for Liberty, Miami chapter president Eulalia Jimenez-Hincapie agreed that the notion of more than two genders would confuse children.
“Kids don’t need to learn that there are nine genres. It’s inappropriate content, and kids don’t need to be exposed to it,” she said.
Other speakers asserted that textbooks were tools to “prepare” children and indoctrinate them into a radical curriculum.
“Grooming” has become a buzzword in Florida Republican legislation and talking points, deployed to falsely accuse pro-LGBTQ institutions of grooming children to be sexually assaultedestablishing a false link between homosexuality and paedophilia.
One commenter, an older man who said his parents didn’t need to be taught in school what to do with their bodies, said schools taught socialism and communism and compared the schools to a biblical den of debauchery.
“Sodom and Gomorrah! Sodom and Gomorrah!” he exclaimed, holding a rosary in his hand.
Arrived at the meeting for a few (our studios are next door) in time for an elderly man to claim that sex education is “socialism” and “communism”.
Then he waved a rosary and proclaimed “Sodom and Gomorrah! Sodom and Gomorrah!” as the audience laughed. https://t.co/m9CHKZZnN9
— Danny Rivero (@TooMuchMe) July 28, 2022
School board members fight amongst themselves
You’d think a school board meeting would be an orderly affair, but tempers flared between the board members when the textbooks were metaphorically put back on the table.
After Tabares Hantman asked the board’s attorney if she could overrule last week’s vote, board member Lubby Navarro began to passionately oppose the idea, asking council counsel to read to him exactly where in The Rules of the Order of Robert (a set of rules for government meetings) that was allowed.
Council counsel Walter James Harvey responded that Robert’s rules allow the council to undo an action made at a previous meeting with a majority vote.
Navarro then argued with fellow board member Steve Gallon III, who was acting as chairman, interrupting him and accusing Harvey of being unprepared and giving poor legal advice. Navarro argued that the board’s attorney had not given them legal advice prior to the vote change meeting, to which Tabares Hantman countered that Harvey could not be expected to do so because she hadn’t asked him before the end of the meeting. called to order.
Things get nasty. Chair @MDCPSPHantman calls for a reconsideration of the vote. @LubbyNavarro interrupts, says it was time for the last meeting. “I was taught to write and read in public schools in Miami-Dade.”@DocSteveGallon does not agree, receives confirmation from the lawyer that there is a way. https://t.co/iOrcuEK1je
— Jesse Scheckner (@JesseScheckner) July 28, 2022
Tabares Hantman then moved his motion to nullify the vote, which carried 5-4.
“I hope I don’t get more offensive comments about how this was done,” she said.
Statewide Political Candidates Use Public Comment Forum to Campaign
With the midterm elections fast approaching, local candidates are looking for any platform to garner media attention, and a televised school board meeting is an easy choice.
Two Republican candidates for non-educational positions, Frank Polo Sr. and Carlos Garin, who are running for U.S. Districts 27 and 28 respectively, both took to the podium during the public comment period to voice their disapproval books, without missing an opportunity to announce their candidacy.
“My name is Frank Polo, who you might recognize from my congressional campaign,” said Polo, who went on to explain how the government imposes a communist curriculum in schools and how sex-ed textbooks work. to “prepare” the children.
When Garin got his turn on the podium and ran for Congress, Tabares Hantman said it was against school board rules for people to use meetings to campaign, but allowed him to reenter. as a parent and finish talking.