LGBTQ students in Brevard County, Florida will rest a little easier knowing that this year at school, they will see changes implemented to protect them. In a close vote, the Brevard County school district approved a policy that would prevent the discrimination of students and teachers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
This issue has been under debate for several months on the school board, with people in the community evenly split in their support. The policy came up for a vote once before in February of this year, but was not passed.
Supporters of the policy argue that it is essential for schools to protect LGBTQ students from bullying. High school senior, Brianna Finnk, commented on the hostile environment for LGBTQ students at her school, saying that there are:
“Just a lot of slurs being used on a day-to-day basis. And it has become very normalized and it shouldn’t be. Those kind of actions should be addressed.”
Opponents of the policy had some truly disgusting arguments to support their side.
At the first meeting, where the policy was unanimously voted against, the majority of the speakers cited their faith as the reason they did not approve of protecting LGBTQ students from bullying. Opponents of the policy stated that they wanted scripture to be taught in schools and that a non-discrimination policy would “threaten public morality.”
Other opponents of the policy in both meetings were especially concerned about transgender people using the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. As of now, the non-discrimination policy does not include specific protection relating to bathrooms.
Even so, many of the opponents of the policy spouted uncomfortable and inaccurate fears about transgender people being allowed to use the correct bathroom, with one speaker in the first meeting saying:
“Do we want delusional people of the opposite sex in our restrooms? No!”
The crowd answered this statement with resounding cheers.
At the most recent meeting to discuss the issue, a non-discrimination policy protecting LGBTQ students and teachers was approved in a 3 to 2 vote. Opponents were still very vocal, but this time there were more speakers in support of the policy.
Daniel Wall-DeSousa, an openly gay teacher who initially proposed the non-discrimination policy, was excited about the vote, saying:
“It allows me to make decisions that are in the best interest of students without worrying about keeping my job. I can sponsor a gay-straight alliance club.”